With Antonio Brown out west, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh.
But the Steelers still must figure out who Ben Roethlisberger’s second choice will be.
Donte Moncrief, Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers and newcomer Diontae Johnson should see attention from Big Ben, but based on Smith-Schuster, second-year recipient James Washington will be Pittsburgh’s breakout pass-catcher at 2019.
“But you speak about a young dude who’s up and coming, it’s going to be James Washington,” Smith Schuster told ESPN. “A man from Oklahoma State, arrived at the Steelers his rookie year, started off slow but figured it out and got down the ropes.
??? Team fits for top remaining FAs
??? Ranking deepest position groups
??? NFL triplets positions: Who’s No. 1?
??? NFC West primer: Camp questions ??? Rank: Can Redskins surprise?
“Last year summer workouts which we had, he’s been doing amazing, a fantastic job. I am super excited to see how he does this season. He is our guy that is going to creep up on everybody.”
Washington began six games in his rookie year, behind Brown, Smith-Schuster and Switzer, and caught 16 balls on 38 targets for 217 yards and a touchdown. His 42.1 catch percentage was the smallest on the team among ability players with 14 targets.
Washington should see a gain in playtime in 2019 from the past year’s 526 snaps (47.1% ), and the receiver has been readying himself for a much bigger workload. Washington advised The Athletic during offseason workouts that he fell 15 pounds to 210 in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
The receiver confessed he was”burned out” in his rookie season through which he watched his snap count his quarterback criticize him on local radio. That has encouraged Washington to prepare differently for the upcoming training camp of Pittsburgh.
“I am only hoping to come in more confident,” Washington told The Atheltic’s Mark Kaboly in May. “It wasn’t that I played without confidence this past year, but I needed to come in with this sense of urgency that I felt like I lacked just a little last year”
Count Smith-Schuster one of the teammates that have already noticed.