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: Game Edition – Will James Washington put together a second strong game in a row?
It’s always questionable to try to predict who is going to be allowed to play in the first couple of preseason games. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a young player, for example, but he’s also a superstar and one of the most valuable pieces. Donte Moncrief is new, but he’s also a veteran and with a finger injury.
The one wide receiver we know is going to play and probably play a lot is James Washington, the second-year man who is fighting for playing time. He had a very good showing in the first preseason game last week, including a couple of explosive plays and a touchdown, but we’ve seen him have the big showing and then not follow up.
For the moment, the general consensus is that Smith-Schuster and Moncrief will start, and the number three wide receiver position will depend upon context from there on out. Some may be underestimating the amount of opportunities Eli Rogers could get early on in the season, for example.
But if Washington can have a consistently strong preseason all the way through, there is the opportunity for him to earn more playing time, and possible even compete for reps as the number two receiver with Moncrief.
The next step in earning the coaches’ trust is that he can be a more than occasional contributor, because that’s what the offense needs, somebody who can consistently step up and take advantage of the opportunities provided to him by playing under the radar with an established starter across from him.