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: Will Diontae Johnson be able to play against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday?
The Steelers got a bit of good news on the health front yesterday, with rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson being able to participate in practice fully. Johnson suffered a concussion on what looked like a pretty nasty hit in their game against the Cleveland Browns a little under a week ago.
The fact that he was able to not just participate in practice, but go through a full practice as normal, is a fantastic sign that he is making great progress on his road to recovery from his concussion, but obviously, the big step is practicing without symptoms, and doing so two days in a row. If he is able to practice today, there’s a great chance that he’ll be able to play on Sunday.
Considering the fact that they already are absent Ryan Switzer and Donte Moncrief, and reports indicate that JuJu Smith-Schuster is not expected to be able to play against the Bengals, at least having Johnson available would make a huge difference.
The only other available wide receiver with a meaningful body of work this season would be James Washington, who has been coming on well this week. He didn’t have big numbers against the Browns, but made some meaningful catches on few opportunities.
The only other wide receivers who will be available are Johnny Holton, who has one meaningless catch on 13 targets, and a pair of players recently signed from practice squads in Tevin Jones and Deon Cain, the latter of whom is a brand new face to the organization.