The Pittsburgh Steelers are going into week one with some uncertainty in the receiving corps. They have three wide receivers listed at WR1, one of them being Diontae Johnson, who is battling an injury. Rookie receiver Calvin Austin III is also on the injury report and isn’t expected to be back in the near future. How will these injuries effect the week one matchup?
Injury on the Front Line
Johnson is listed at WR1 along with George Pickens and Chase Claypool, but may not be suited up for their week one matchup with the Bengals. Johnson left the preseason finale against Detroit with a shoulder injury. He has been limited in practice this week and stated, “I’m doing everything my arm will allow me to do.” Johnson’s availability for the Steelers week one matchup against the Bengals is uncertain as of now.
Injury Delaying Rookie Debut
Rookie wideout Calvin Austin III was diagnosed with a foot injury during training camp. Unfortunately, he was placed on the injured reserved list earlier this week. He will not be eligible to come off the IR until the Steelers week five matchup against the Bills. Although his injury might not be felt as much as Johnson’s, this hurts the Steelers depth at the position.
Filling the Void
With Austin out indefinitely and Johnson’s availability up in the air, the Steelers need to look to their other weapons. Claypool was streaky throughout his first two seasons, scoring nine touchdowns on 109 targets his rookie year but only two on 105 targets last season. Although, with Juju Smitch-Schuster’s departure and a new, younger quarterback, Claypool should see his numbers improve in year three.
Rookie receiver, George Pickens, will need to be ready to make an immediate impact for the team. He showed glimpses of what he can do in pre-season. In his first NFL game, facing the Seahawks, he caught three passes for 43 yards and a toe-dragging touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Tight end, Pat Freiermuth, could also be seen as a player who can help get the Steelers offense going. In his rookie campaign last season, he had 60 receptions for 497 yards and 7 touchdowns. Look for him to attack the flats and middle of the field as a check-down.
Steelers fans are hopeful that Johnson will be ready to play week one and are awaiting Austin III’s debut which will hopefully come in week five. Check out the week one preview against the Bengals here.
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