Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: WR James Washington
Stock Value: Up
It can be debated what James Washington could or should have done on that late bomb against the New York Jets and whether or not he should have caught that pass. I personally would prefer to acknowledge that the safety, Marcus Maye, made a fantastic individual play.
And that one moment certainly should in no way overshadow the excellent progress that he second-year wide receiver has made in the bulk of this season since the bye week. Over the past eight weeks, he has caught 34 passes for 574 yards and three touchdowns. Prorated over a full season, that translates to 68 receptions for 1148 yards and six touchdowns.
Considering that he has been playing with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges during that time, it’s all the more impressive. It makes one wonder what sort of numbers he may be able to put up next year under a full season with Ben Roethlisberger. Which we will hopefully see next year.
In his last game, he caught five passes on eight targets for 41. That included a key 13-yard grab on third and 12 early in the second quarter. Or at least it could have been a key had Hodges not thrown an interception in the end zone from the 19-yard line three plays later. He also drew an illegal contact penalty on a deep ball, as well as a horsecollar tackle penalty. The former came on third down and led to a 29-yard touchdown on the next play.
All the more notable is the fact that Washington was injured on the horsecollar tackle, with the tackler, Arthur Maulet falling on the back of his leg. That was early in the second quarter, on his first target. He played the rest of the game through that, and was seen limping in the locker room after the game.
Washington came into this season with a lot of questions to answer. Perhaps he didn’t answer all of them, but he did provide the roadmap for future solutions, and it’s easy to get excited about what a full-powered offense including him could look like in 2020.