2022 Offseason Questions: Does It Matter Why Diontae Johnson Was Absent From OTAs?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Does it matter why Diontae Johnson was not in attendance at OTAs last week?

Veteran fourth-year Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson was one of the most-discussed topics of the first week of OTAs last week. That was because he wasn’t there, and the discussion was about his absence. What did it mean? We all put our own biases onto it.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least to many, he showed up to OTAs for the first day of week two, and he told reporters that he would speak to the media next week, so that certainly seems to imply that he intends to be here for the rest of the way.

No matter what one’s opinion of his attendance or lack thereof, there is the question that arises: if he showed up now, why didn’t he show up last week? And that’s not a loaded question. There are numerous valid reasons for is, and we have seen veteran players show up one week and not the next, or vice versa.

Maybe he was finishing up a private training regimen that he was involved in. Maybe he had a vacation planned. Maybe he just didn’t think he needed to be there for the first week of OTAs. Maybe he didn’t want to be asked about his contract yet. Or maybe he wasn’t actually planning on showing up until it became such an issue within the media—even if it wasn’t one in the locker room.

Given that he already said that he wasn’t going to be speaking this week, it will still be a while before we hear from him directly, and it goes without saying that he is going to be asked the question about why he wasn’t there. But does it matter? He’s here now, right? If the season hinged on their number one wide receiver being in attendance for the first week of OTAs, then they would be in really bad shape.

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