Even though his snap count has declined over the course of the past several weeks within the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, third-year wide receiver James Washington has still proven to be good for at least one significant player or two per game.
Last week, for example, he made arguably the play of the game when he snagged a crucial third-down pass in traffic late in the fourth quarter, which helped the Steelers retain control of the ball after the Baltimore Ravens had just scored a touchdown to make it a one-score game.
He has had a similar play or a touchdown in nearly every game since the Steelers began to go away from him, which was a product of multiple things, including the emergence of rookie Chase Claypool at the same time that Diontae Johnson was sidelined with injuries, who then worked his way back.
Even though he is not seeing the field as often as he had in his first two seasons, he still has the trust of his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who has gone to bat for him a couple of times in recent weeks when speaking to the media, and he did again in the buildup to today’s game.
“I have 100 percent confidence in him”, he said of Washington. “I wouldn’t have thrown it if I didn’t believe in him. Maybe I would have put a little more zip on it, make it a little easier on him, but when you give a guy a chance to make a play and he makes it and he makes it over and over then that man should continue to get opportunities”.
“I think he will continue to get opportunities”, he would continue to say, “as he should, because he puts the work, the time, the conditioning, the mental aspect of it. He deserves to get on the field more, and I think we will see him”.
Head coach Mike Tomlin talked about leaning upon the strength of the group during this current run that the Steelers are on, in which they will be playing on short weeks for two games. They only had five days to prepare for the Washington Football Team, and will have only six before playing the Buffalo Bills on the road.
With that in mind, it would make sense if we do see more of a rotation at wide receiver over the course of the next couple of weeks, and it might not be the worst thing, considering some of the footballs that Johnson and Claypool put on the ground their last time out.