Steelers’ James Washington sheds weight, memories of rookie season |
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Chris Adamski

The memory of a subpar rookie season wasn’t the only thing that now won’t be weighing James Washington down in Year 2 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fifteen lost pounds also aren’t being carried in 2019, a slimmer and trimmer Washington said Thursday after an organized team activity session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

“Just more speed,” the wide receiver said for his reasoning in dropping from 225 to 210 over the past four months. “I feel like I am quicker off the ball and I am just able to run through everybody now.”

A second-round pick just 13 months ago, Washington might be considered the incumbent in the competition for the Steelers’ new No. 2 wideout in 2019. But is he the favorite?

The Steelers signed veteran Dante Moncrief to a two-year, $9 million contract and drafted Diontae Johnson high in the third round.

“You can’t really focus on things that someone else does; you’ve got to continue trying to be the best you,” Washington said of the Steelers bringing in new receivers. “And that’s the thought I had in the back of my mind the whole time.”

“It brings out the best of all of us,” he added. “But at the end of the day, we are still (friends), still a team. So, it’s like iron sharpens iron.”

While, certainly, fortification at the position was needed after the offseason trade of perennial All Pro Antonio Brown, it’s probably fair to say that if Washington had been better as a rookie that perhaps the Steelers wouldn’t have felt the need to expend so much capital at receiver.

After having 16 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in 2018, Washington isn’t in any position to complain. Washington told “It was hard. I am not going to lie. There were times I would go home, think to myself ways to get better and not let the team down. I was disappointed last year. I have high expectations for myself and this team has them for me.”

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