The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
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 have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? 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: Who will have a more productive game for the Steelers between James Washington and Diontae Johnson?
In thinking about the situation, one might be inclined to say that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s injury leaves the wide receiver position in the hands of ‘the young people’; the problem with this particular phrase, of course, being the fact that Smith-Schuster is the youngest of the bunch. He’s simply the most experienced.
But with the third-year veteran ruled out for Sunday’s game, the point is that the passing game now has to go through James Washington and Diontae Johnson, the 60th and 66th picks in the past two drafts, respectively.
But have had their highlights and lowlights this year, with Washington having been on something of an upward trend of late. Both have come up with impressive catches. Both have had bad drops and fumbles.
Both of them also have some inkling of a rapport with Mason Rudolph, who is coming off unquestionably the worst game in his young career. At least their next opponent is the winless Cincinnati Bengals, who have already lost Dre Kirkpatrick for the season.
Following a productive few weeks, Washington now is sitting at 23 receptions for 369 yards and one touchdown for the year. Johnson’s numbers have come a little more consistently, now with 32 receptions for 380 yards and three touchdowns.