The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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 many snaps per game will James Washington average over the course of the season half of the season?
Third-year wide receiver James Washington led the Steelers in receiving yards last season as he began to rise in stature, even in a season without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, instead finding some connections with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. This was in spite of the fact that they struggled to throw him accurate deep balls.
One would think that getting Roethlisberger back after Washington’s mini-breakout season would be a been for him, but the emergence of rookie Chase Claypool shattered that illusion. Once the wide receiver room got healthy a few weeks ago, the third-year man was put largely on the shelf.
He has now played 254 snaps through the first eight games, trending to play fewer snaps than in either of his first two seasons (he played 526 snaps as a rookie despite missing two games), and that includes just 41 snaps over the past three games.
If he is going to continue to average in the ballpark of a dozen snaps per game, then he is going to have to make his contributions count. He did on Sunday, catching one pass for a 17-yard touchdown. But for the moment, except due to injury, it’s hard to see for him a clear path back to steady playing time the way the offense is formulated and is evolving at the journey continues.