Steelers’ Johnny Holton: ‘I didn’t do good enough’ on returns
James Washington’s left arm was in a sling Monday afternoon as he walked through the locker room at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
About 24 hours earlier, he suffered an injury to the AC joint in his shoulder during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
While there is no definitive word on Washington’s status for Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Chargers, Johnny Holton recognizes he’s the next man up at the “Z” receiver where Washington plays.
“I pretty much know the position already,” Holton said Monday. “I am able to handle it.
“But all our receivers are able to handle situations. We practice at any position to learn it in case things like that happen.”
Holton’s other duties include the “gunner” on kick and punt coverage as well as a part-time kickoff returner. On Sunday, Holton twice fielded kickoffs just inside the goal line in the Steelers end zone.
The first one he returned 13 yards to the 11-yard line. On the second, he took a knee from a yard deep in the end zone, drawing sarcastic cheers from Heinz Field fans who recognized the poor field position the kickoff-return team was giving the Steelers.
The Steelers field position on all three kick returns Sunday:
Mike Tomlin says that's why he kicked off to start OT. And he's clearly – rightfully – pissed at the return teams' performance. I'd expect a shakeup for next week.https://t.co/DxdKE5lFiM
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 6, 2019
“I wasn’t doing a good job of bringing it out and getting it past the 25,” Holton said, “and that was our goal: to get good field position. And I wasn’t doing a good job of that.”
Holton said the general instructions from coaches are to never return a kick fielded in the end zone, though it does not sound like a strict rule.
After Sunday’s loss, coach Mike Tomlin explained his decision to kick off to begin overtime, in part, by explaining the Steelers’ kick return team was lousy against the Ravens.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .