James Washington has endured an up-and-down career with the Steelers thus far. Heading into the 2021 season, rumors broke that Washington had requested a trade.
While those rumors never seemed to come to fruition, Washington’s playing time hasn’t been what he’d like. He’s seemed to have stayed a true professional throughout the process, though, as he’s stayed ready when his number’s been called upon.
“I’m just trying to do what I can,” Washington said Wednesday in audio via the team. “Guys are hurt right now, so guys are having to step up and do more than what we’re used to.”
On the season, Washington has played 48% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps. The season-ending injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the recent injury to Chase Claypool have forced Washington into more playing time.
In the tie against the Lions, he played 87% of the Steelers’ snaps. That’s a significant uptick from the eight total snaps he saw in Week 6 against the Seahawks.
“Every opportunity is gold here because you can just never know when you’re going to get them. So when you’re in there, you just got to make the most of every opportunity.”
Washington’s readiness and professionalism have helped the Steelers receiving corp stay afloat amidst injuries. He’s established himself as one of the better backups in the league.
After 55 total yards on four touches against the Bears, Washington caught a nine-yard touchdown against the Lions. The connection with former college teammate Mason Rudolph helped against the Lions. He’s got 14 catches, 169 yards, and one touchdown this season.
Despite the return of Claypool looming near, Washington will continue to see the field in heavy doses. His effectiveness will play a large role in the team’s offensive performance down the stretch.
Although not quite the player fans expected him to be, he remains a crucial depth piece to this Steelers team. That remains evident after the recent injuries to Claypool and Smith-Schuster.