Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver James Washington was inactive for the second time this season on Sunday for team’s home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers as veteran wide receiver Justin Hunter dressed instead of him. With Hunter now on the team’s Reserve/Injured list as of Tuesday after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half against the Chargers, Washington will more than likely resume dressing Sunday in the team’s road game against the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s also an opportunity for things to boomerang back around for James Washington and I’m kind of excited about that, to be quite honest with you,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday when asked about Hunter’s injury possibly creating a chance for wide receiver Eli Rogers to get back on the 53-man roster from the Reserve/PUP list. “Such is life in this game, at this level. You know, sometimes you get knocked down, you gotta get in the lab and work and oftentimes that’s done in obscurity, if you will. And you wait for your opportunity to get back on and to ride again and to show what you’re capable of.
The last game that Washington played in he failed to catch a pass and was even penalized for a block in the back. One of those targets he failed to catch was a wide-open deep pass down the right sideline from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. On that play it certainly deemed like he unnecessarily left his feet.
Last week, Roethlisberger publicly chided Washington during an interview for him failing to catch that pass against the Denver Broncos. Those comments, along with Roethlisberger’s small criticism of a route that fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown ran on the final red zone interception against the Broncos, have been debated all week by both the national and local media. During his weekly Tuesday interview on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger again addressed his recent criticism of Brown and Washington and how there are no hard feeling between the three players.
“Yeah, there’s not an issue, Roethlisberger said Tuesday morning. “You know, people sometimes make a big deal about things that are said. Rightfully so, whatever they want to do, but we always say that it doesn’t affect us. Like, you know, they talk about leadership, or whatever, and I knew that there was no issue in our locker room. A.B. knew there’s no issue in our locker room between he and I. We’ve got a great relationship.
“Even James Washington. It was nothing more than me challenging him to be ready to go and he had a great week of practice [last week]. Him and I had a great talk on Saturday morning after the week and there was no hard feelings at all, which I didn’t think there would be. There’s a right and a wrong way to kind of challenge guys sometimes and I felt like I did that, and I feel like there’s no negative, no negativity came from it. And so, A.B. and I then show what we can do on Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but still a pretty productive day by the two of us.”
Washington has yet to catch a deep pass from Roethlisberger this season and only has 8 total receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown for the season. By the sound of things, he’ll have a chance to add to those stats Sunday in Oakland against the Raiders.
“Not a lot of time on the shelf for James and so it’s going to be exciting to watch him get back on this week and take advantage of someone else’s misfortune and be a positive contributor to our efforts,” Tomlin said Tuesday of Washington. “Excited about the potential inclusion of him again as well.”
As for the status of Rogers this week, while Tomlin did admit on Tuesday that there a chance that he could be back on the 53-man roster come Sunday, there’s no guarantee that happens.
“A possibility,” Tomlin said of Rogers. “He tweet anything?”