The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who will be the Steelers’ primary number three receiver on Sunday?
As I was going through my charting, I noticed something interesting: up until he was injured, it was actually Justin Hunter, and not Ryan Switzer, whom the Steelers were using as their number three receiver during Sunday’s game against the Chargers.
Of the first 20 snaps of the game on which there were three or more wide receivers, Hunter played 18 of those snaps, and Switzer played just two. And that 20th snap was the one that Hunter was injured on. Switzer would go on to log 24 total snaps, but 22 of them came after Hunter’s injury.
That seems unusual given that he was used as the team’s primary number three receiver for the previous five quarters of play, and that even included pitting him against Chris Harris in the slot against the Broncos, which is a tough challenge.
While it seems as though he is trending in the direction of playing on Sunday, it’s hard to say if he will go back to being used as the primary number three, if they were seemingly moving away from that already with Hunter.
Obviously James Washington will return. Coaches said that he had a good week of practice last week in spite of the fact that they chose not to dress him. Mike Tomlin spoke quite a bit yesterday about his excitement about giving him another opportunity.
It all makes it sound as though Washington is going to be getting back on the field and seeing a lot of snaps, as he has been for most of the season, despite his inability to make much in the way of statistical contributions. But we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.