Sunday was a tough game for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver James Washington as not only did he fail to register a catch in that contest, he also had a drop of a wide-open deep pass in addition to getting flagged for an illegal block in the back penalty. During his Tuesday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked about Washington’s deep drop on Sunday in addition to discussing the level of confidence he currently has in the team’s second round draft pick this year.
“He has to make it [the catch],” Roethlisberger said of the deep incompleted third quarter pass to Washington on Sunday. “I think he just didn’t trust his hands. For some reason he jumped-slash-dove. I’m not really sure what he was doing. We looked at it and coach got on him pretty good yesterday and we took a long hard look at it. James needs to just run through that and it’s a touchdown. JuJu’s was a little tougher but James’, he needs to make that play. Yes, he’s a rookie, but you can’t be out there if you’re not going to make those kinds plays for us.”
Even though Roethlisberger was seemingly down on Washington when he talked about him and his drop and the lack of confidence the young wide receiver seems to have in hands at this point of his rookie season, the quarterback made it clear during his interview that he hasn’t personally lost any confidence in the Oklahoma State product.
“I have the confidence in him,” Roethlisberger said. “I mean, I wouldn’t have thrown it to him if I didn’t. He needs to just have the trust and confidence in himself and he needs to bounce back. Right? We need him to bounce back and make some plays this week for us.”
While Roethlisberger made it sound like Washington will dress and play in the Steelers Sunday night home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t sound so sure the rookie will ultimately be given a helmet this coming weekend.
“I have no idea,” Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference when asked if Washington would dress and play in the team’s Sunday night game against the Chargers. “I hadn’t even begun to think about that. You know, we’ve got too many global planning issues to look at – who gets a hat at this juncture – I hadn’t even done some of the core base game planning.”
Tomlin was then immediately asked if he thinks Washington has lost confidence in himself.
“He’d be better equipped to answer that than I,” Tomlin said. “I’ll let him speak for himself in that regard.”
After that short answer Tomlin was then asked if he personally still has confidence in Washington with five regular season games now remaining to be played.
“I’ve got a great deal of confidence in him, but that’s a good question. Ask him, his level of confidence in himself,” Tomlin said.
We’ll have to wait and see if Washington is active Sunday night against the Chargers. He’s already been sat down once earlier this season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen again Sunday night. Should Washington indeed wind up not getting a helmet Sunday night, veteran wide receiver Justin Hunter, who has been inactive for the last several games, would likely dress and play in place of the rookie.