2019 Offseason Questions: Why Was Diontae Johnson Limited, And Will He Be Today?

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: Why did Diontae Johnson not participate in team drills yesterday, and will he do so today?

As you’ve surely read up on by now, the Steelers third-round wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, was only a limited participant to start rookie minicamp, working in individual drills but being held you of the team portions of practice on a slick, rainy day.

Johnson told Joe Rutter that he was not injured—more specifically, he said, “I’m fine right now”—and deferred further responses about his level of participation to Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who I don’t believe addressed the media at all.

If he wasn’t injured, why wasn’t he participating in the full allotment of activities? He talked just the day before about his excitement to show the coaches what he is capable of doing. This certainly appears to be a coaches’ decision of some kind.

This is pure idle speculation and not to be taken seriously, but it’s possible that hey might have felt tweaked something at some point and they just wanted to be cautious. Or the team simply didn’t want him to work in the wet conditions, though they didn’t have any problem with Devin Bush doing so, and he cost them a lot more.

Obviously it’s far too early to get concerned about anything, but because there was no reason given for Johnson’s only partial participation in practice, we are left to wonder. Perhaps we will get an answer today.

But rather than an answer, it would be better to simply see him out on the field as a full participant with the rest of the wide receivers, and the offense. Rookie minicamp isn’t going to make or break anybody, but he certainly seemed hungry to get on the field and work, so I’m sure even he wasn’t thrilled about watching much of yesterday’s activities standing next to Darryl Drake.

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