The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a few players step up in the last few weeks as the team has faced injuries and other issues on the field.
The Steelers have been struggling offensively, specifically with keeping the ball in the hands of their receivers.
Ball drops have plagued the receiving core for the past few weeks, although things started to improve in Pittsburgh’s last game against the Buffalo Bills.
In the midst of all this, wide receiver James Washington seems to be one of the more consistent receivers at the moment.
Washington has scored five touchdowns this year, two of them in each of Pittsburgh’s last two games.
“I think [Washington] has done a great job of stepping up when we needed him to,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said in his Wednesday press conference. “I think he should be on the field. We’ve got a lot of playmakers and you can’t just let guys sit on the sideline that could potentially help you.”
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson was benched for part of the game in Buffalo after dropping two passes early in the first quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger said he tried to encourage Diontae Johnson after he was benched on Sunday night – added they had a good conversation and he was really proud of him in the second half.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) December 16, 2020
As a result, Washington had a few explosive plays, including a 19-yard catch for a touchdown.
Linebacker Avery Williamson is another one of the Steelers players who had to step up recently.
Williamson is a newer addition to the team, after being traded by the New York Jets in early November.
In last Sunday’s game, Williamson led the team in tackles with 11. Nine of these were solo tackles. He also recorded one quarterback hit.
Williamson wore the green dot for Pittsburgh and was responsible for communicating plays to the defense.
“I can’t say enough about his work and his work to get up to speed and embracing the responsibility of being a central communicator for us,” head coach Mike Tomlin said in his weekly press conference. “He was better. It is reasonable to expect him to continually get better with each opportunity, but I can’t say enough about his efforts in those areas.”
Safety Marcus Allen is taking on a whole new role for Pittsburgh. With so many injuries on the defensive line, he played at the linebacker position last week.
“Can’t say enough about a guy like Marcus Allen, who’s new to the position, who’s new to the number of snaps he had and getting the type of effort that we got from him,” Tomlin said.
Looking Ahead During Bengals Week
Although it may seem like an easy feat for the Steelers, this week’s game is of extra importance in Pittsburgh. If the Steelers pull out a win, they will officially clinch the AFC North.
The Cincinnati Bengals are currently 2-10-1 and have been struggling with the loss of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Roethlisberger knows that the team needs to be more physical in the coming weeks.
Ben Roethlisberger said he doesn't feel like the offense overall is being as physical as they should or need to be all of the time.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) December 16, 2020
“There are a lot of things involved,” Roethlisberger said. “Sometimes physicality is mental too. You have to be mentally tough. All of those things combined I think can hopefully turn this thing around and we can hit the plays that are there to be had.”
In Tuesday’s press conference, Tomlin addressed his outlook on this week’s matchup.
“For us, it’s about assessing who we have available to us and sharpening our sword for the battle that lies ahead,” said Tomlin. “We expect to get the very best of Cincinnati. That’s a rivalry-type game, if you will. It’s an opportunity for them to have a feel good in the midst of a trying circumstance of a season for them. It’s Monday Night Football. We understand and expect all of that.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Still Curtain.
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