Wide receivers still trying to carve out roles in Steelers offense
Playing his first game for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, Donte Moncrief was credited with an NFL-high four drops in the 33-3 loss at New England.
If the veteran wide receiver sees a dip in playing time this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks — Moncrief played 90% of the offensive snaps against the Patriots — it won’t be because of those mistakes, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.
“It’s a process that we go through in the early stages of the season every week,” Tomlin said when asked about playing time for his receivers in Week 2. “Not in reaction to what transpired in the stadium Sunday night. It’s just the nature of this thing as you harden up the division of labor and find your personalities at the early stage of this thing.”
While Moncrief and JuJu Smith-Schuster each logged the same amount of reps, slot receiver Ryan Switzer played 69% of the offensive plays, followed by James Washington at 52% and rookie Diontae Johnson at 36%.
After a lengthy absence in the opening half, Washington had a 45-yard catch in the third quarter that set up the Steelers’ only score. Washington caught two of six targets, but Johnson was the only receiver aside from Moncrief with a dropped pass.
“I didn’t view a lack of participation for James Washington in the game,” Tomlin said. “We played him a significant amount. He’s a young guy. He’ll continue to carve out a role for himself.”
Tomlin said the wide receivers need to perform better against the Seahawks than they did in their first game since Antonio Brown was traded in March.
“We better be scalded because of that, and we better work our tails off to prepare for our next opportunity,” Tomlin said. “There will be no division in this group. This is how we’re wired. This is what we put out there. We’re foaming at the mouth for our next opportunity, and we better be.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .