2020 Offseason Questions: How Did Injury Affect Diontae Johnson’s Rookie Season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

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: How much of an impact did Diontae Johnson’s injury have on his 2019 season?

One of the biggest things that has been talked about related to how the Cleveland Browns’ season unfolded a year ago has been the fact that their top two wide receivers, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., both played the entire year through groin injuries. While they both managed to put up 1000 yards apiece and totaled 10 touchdowns between them, it wasn’t what people envisioned when these two paired up with Baker Mayfield.

As it turns out, they weren’t the only AFC North wide receivers nursing groin injuries. Diontae Johnson told reporters yesterday that he suffered a groin injury all the way back to Week Two, and that he had the injury surgically repaired in the offseason, as Beckham and Landry did with their injuries.

He still managed to catch 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns, doing so as a rookie and operating primarily with the team’s second and third quarterbacks, which makes what he was able to accomplish all the more notable.

He also displayed great shiftiness, among the league leaders in forced missed tackles on receptions, and he also displayed his aloofness on special teams as a punt returner. Given how well he played in this particular area, it’s hard to imagine that he could actually be even better at 100 percent.

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