Dealing With Hip Injury, Diontae Johnson Confident He’ll Play Sunday

Though WR Diontae Johnson failed to practice Thursday, he expects to suit up in Sunday’s pivotal game against the Baltimore Ravens. Speaking to reporters Friday, Johnson said the issue is more about pain tolerance than anything else.

“I’m feeling good. We’ll see how I feel when I’m out there warming up,” he said as shared by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “In my mind, I’m going to play. So I’m not really too worried about it.”

Johnson backslid on this week’s injury report, practicing in limited fashion on Wednesday before being held out entirely of Thursday’s session. It’s normally a troubling sign but teams have gotten more conservative with player injuries in recent years. In December, everyone is hurting and there’s no reason to believe Johnson will miss this game.

“It’s just a matter of it I can open it up and have normal strides…me feeling comfortable, really. That’s what it’s about.”

After receiving a contract extension in the summer, Johnson has had a difficult year. Still searching for his first touchdown on 61 receptions, he’s tops in the league in that goose-egg category. Here’s the top five players with the most receptions without a touchdown in 2022.

Most Receptions Without A TD (2022)

1. Diontae Johnson – 61
2. Tyler Higbee – 52
3. Josh Jacobs – 44
4. Saquon Barkley – 40
5. Ben Skowronek – 38

Not a chart you want to top. Johnson is also beginning to close in on fairly historical status for most receptions by a wide receiver without a touchdown. For those scoring at home, the record is held by Baltimore Colt legend Raymond Berry, who had 75 receptions and zero touchdowns in 1961.

A touchdown this weekend would go a long way to beating the Ravens. Pittsburgh’s passing game has been far from prolific but Johnson’s had his chances to score. A dropped goal line fade against Indianapolis as well as a third down pass that went through his hands against Atlanta; had he caught it, he was likely 1v1 with a DB to the end zone.

While it’s been a tough year for Johnson, Najee Harris’ season should give him and fans hope. Harris struggled for the first half of the year, plagued by injuries and less-than-stellar play. He’s quieted all the boo-birds and doubters with strong performances since the bye and running like the player he’s capable of being. Johnson’s in the same boat and one big game this weekend can change perspective of his entire season.

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