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Injuries Present James Washington With Big Opportunity This Week

We will learn more tomorrow about where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at wide receiver, but I’m not sure there is much reason to be optimistic. Two of the Steelers top three players at the position were forced out of Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns after taking hits to the head that caused concussions while attempting to make a catch.

Top wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was hit by two defenders on the same play, including a ricochet shot by former Steeler safety Morgan Burnett as the second helmet hit. He remained down on the field for a period of time, but ultimately left under his own power, and was ruled out with a concussion.

Later in the game, Diontae Johnson, the rookie picked up early in the third round, took an ugly shot in the open field by Damarious Randall in a hit that was significant enough to warrant an ejection. The pass was a deep ball that Johnson couldn’t run under. Randall, the safety, flew in and lowered his helmet square into the receiver’s, causing him to bleed.

Smith-Schuster has already participated in a public charity event since that game; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has cleared the concussion protocol and will be ready to participate in practice. Johnson’s appeared to be the more severe, and it would be hard to imagine him practicing at least early in the week.

Mike Tomlin will be giving his pre-game press conference tomorrow, during which point we will get an update about how those two are progressing. But in the meantime, a huge opportunity is presenting itself for James Washington, the second-year wide receiver who has had a better stretch of games of late.

Over the course of the past three games, the former second-round pick has caught 13 passes on just 16 targets, putting up 208 yards with one touchdown. In the first six games of the season (he missed one due to injury), he caught 10 passes on 27 targets for 161 yards while failing to score.

Now there is the possibility that he will be tasked with being the number one wide receiver for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals if neither Smith-Schuster nor Johnson are going to be available due to their concussions.

As if you need the reminder, Washington was college teammates for four years with quarterback Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State, and the Steelers ended up drafting them with consecutive picks in the second and third rounds last year. That prior rapport has been key for his development this year, and in particular over the past three games. It could be essential on Sunday.

We will learn more tomorrow about where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at wide receiver, but I’m not sure there is much reason to be optimistic. Two of the Steelers top three players at the position were forced out of Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns after taking hits to the head that caused concussions while attempting to make a catch.

Top wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was hit by two defenders on the same play, including a ricochet shot by former Steeler safety Morgan Burnett as the second helmet hit. He remained down on the field for a period of time, but ultimately left under his own power, and was ruled out with a concussion.

Later in the game, Diontae Johnson, the rookie picked up early in the third round, took an ugly shot in the open field by Damarious Randall in a hit that was significant enough to warrant an ejection. The pass was a deep ball that Johnson couldn’t run under. Randall, the safety, flew in and lowered his helmet square into the receiver’s, causing him to bleed.

Smith-Schuster has already participated in a public charity event since that game; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has cleared the concussion protocol and will be ready to participate in practice. Johnson’s appeared to be the more severe, and it would be hard to imagine him practicing at least early in the week.

Mike Tomlin will be giving his pre-game press conference tomorrow, during which point we will get an update about how those two are progressing. But in the meantime, a huge opportunity is presenting itself for James Washington, the second-year wide receiver who has had a better stretch of games of late.

Over the course of the past three games, the former second-round pick has caught 13 passes on just 16 targets, putting up 208 yards with one touchdown. In the first six games of the season (he missed one due to injury), he caught 10 passes on 27 targets for 161 yards while failing to score.

Now there is the possibility that he will be tasked with being the number one wide receiver for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals if neither Smith-Schuster nor Johnson are going to be available due to their concussions.

As if you need the reminder, Washington was college teammates for four years with quarterback Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State, and the Steelers ended up drafting them with consecutive picks in the second and third rounds last year. That prior rapport has been key for his development this year, and in particular over the past three games. It could be essential on Sunday.

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