The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 offseason practices concluded last week, and next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Ahead of Steelers’ training camp getting underway, we will preview the team’s offseason roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers’ roster preview, which includes outlooks for each player, will be done alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.
The next three players we will preview ahead of Steelers training camp are Diontae Johnson, Tyree Johnson, and Karl Joseph.
WR Diontae Johnson: Johnson played his third NFL season in 2021 and statistically, it was his best one to date. the former third round draft pick out of Toledo recorded 107 receptions for 1161 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 with a long of 50 yards. He also chipped in five rushes for another 53 yards in his 988 total regular season snaps played on offense. Johnson did fumble twice in 2021, however, and had six regular season drops and two more in the playoffs. Johnson also was penalized a total of 10 times in 2021 with seven of those being false starts. For his efforts in 2021, Johnson was a Pro Bowl player as he was chosen as an injury/playoff replacement.
Outlook: The mystery when it comes to Johnson this summer mostly revolves around whether or not the team will sign him to a lucrative contract extension. Moving past the summer and into the regular season, there’s no reason to think that Johnson can’t have another 100-plus catch year in 2022 that results in more than 1,000 yards receiving and around eight touchdowns. While the hope is that it will decrease, Johnson’s drop percentage is likely to remain about the same in 2022. He can help make up for that by delivering more explosive plays and lowering his penalty amount, however. With new quarterbacks in town, it’s not hard to imagine Johnson’s yards per reception stat going up in 2022. His average depth of target is also likely to increase some in 2022 as well. If the Steelers offense is going to be better in 2022 than the unit was in 2021, Johnson will need to deliver another strong season.
OLB Tyree Johnson: A Texas A&M product, Johnson was one of the ten original undrafted free agents signed by the Steelers this offseason. At the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, Johnson measured in at 6024, 248 pounds with 30 7/8-inch arms and 9 3/4-inch hands. He was limited at the combine and his pro day due to a knee and quad injury. In four college seasons at Texas A&M, Johnson registered 100 total tackles, of which 23.5 of them resulted in lost yardage. He also had 18 sacks during his college career and three forced fumbles to go along with two passes defensed.
Outlook: The Steelers did not draft an outside linebacker this year. They did, however, sign outside free agents Genard Avery and Tuzar Skipper since then. Additionally, Derrek Tuszka and Delontae Scott, both of whom were with the team in 2021 in some capacity, will be back fighting for roster spots this summer. It will also be interesting to see if the team signs yet another experienced outside linebacker ahead of training camp starting. As we sit here in late June, there is a path to the Week 1 53-man roster for Johnson as either a fourth or fifth outside linebacker and especially if he can make himself standout on special teams throughout the summer. The Steelers could use some young and talented outside linebacker depth in their roster so it will be interesting to watch what happens with Johnson throughout training camp and the preseason. At worst, Johnson can probably land on the Steelers practice squad to start the 2022 regular season.
S Karl Joseph: The Steelers signed Joseph to their practice squad to start the 2021 regular season and that followed him being released by the Las Vegas Raiders. While Joseph was elevated several times from the practice squad to the active roster from the middle of the 2021 season and on, he always reverted back after games. As you would imagine, Joseph saw very limited playing time with the Steelers in 2021. In total, he logged 17 defensive snaps and 14 more on special teams. He ended the season with just two total tackles and one pass defensed. The Steelers predicably re-signed Joseph for the veteran minimum early in the offseason.
Outlook: In addition to re-signing Joseph this offseason, the Steelers also re-signed two other safeties in Terrell Edmunds and Miles Killebrew, both of whom are expected to make the 53-man roster this year. Edmunds as a starter and Killebrew as a backup and core special teams player. The Steelers also went out and signed veteran safety Damontae Kazee this offseason. Second-year safety Tre Norwood, a 2021 draft pick, is also expected to make the roster again in 2022. Assuming the Steelers ultimately keep just four safeties on their 53-man roster this year, Joseph will have his work cut out this summer when it comes to him possibly claiming one of those spots. He’s not known as a huge special teams asset so that’s another thing that isn’t in his favor as we get closer to the start of training camp. Depending on how things shake out, it’s very plausible that Joseph could wind up starting the 2022 regular season on the Steelers practice squad.
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