The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: Is James Washington making a push to be the Steelers’ number two wide receiver ahead of Donte Moncrief?
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Before we begin, let’s preface this by highlighting the reality that I do, in fact, understand that it’s not overwhelmingly important in today’s game to distinguish, in most cases, between the number two and number three wide receivers. In passing situations, they will both be on the field at the same time probably roughly 80 percent of the time or more, depending upon the team.
With that said, there is still something to be said for elevating oneself to the number two spot, as JuJu Smith-Schuster did by the end of his rookie season. For one thing, it speaks to the coaches’ level of trust and confidence in you.
During his rookie season a year ago, James Washington didn’t give the Steelers’ coaching staff many reasons to have confidence in him nor to trust that he would perform as anticipated within any given play. Of course, there was no upward mobility possible for him last year anyway given who the starters were.
With Antonio Brown gone, however, there is a wide open position. Donte Moncrief was signed in free agency and has essentially been penciled into that role, but with the veteran nursing an injured finger, perhaps there is an opportunity for Washington to step up and claim that spot.
He is already coming off of a strong first preseason game in which he caught four passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, including a couple of impressive hands catches on an eight-yard score and a 43-yard connection from Joshua Dobbs.