Steelers Breakout Receiver Played Through Injury In 2019

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

By: Jordan DeFigio, @fidgenewton

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Diontae Johnson may be poised to make a bigger splash than we even anticipated.

In February 2020, the breakout receiver underwent core muscle surgery and played the majority of last season dealing with a smattering of injuries.

Throughout the course of training camp and the regular season, Johnson sustained a groin injury, a mild hip injury, and was even held out of practice and play from August 4th-August 13th as a precaution, as reported in the 2019 Injury Tracker by G. Stryker.

“That happened probably the second game of the season. I was running and it just felt like my groin was getting a little tight on me,” Johnson said Wednesday during a Zoom interview. “I’ve been doing rehab down in Florida, going every day. I’ve been doing a lot of core muscle work on a pilates machine. That’s helped me out a lot. Hopefully, I’ll get cleared in the next couple of days. I’ve been staying on that, making sure I’m healthy and come back ready.”

That obviously begs the question – if Johnson was playing through injuries during the 2019 season, what is he capable of at full-health?

In his first season, Johnson was the Steelers’ biggest standout at receiver, snagging 59 receptions for 680 yards. He averaged 11.5 yards per catch, with a long of 45 yards and 5 touchdowns.

He put these numbers up as a rookie.

With multiple injuries.

Catching passes from second and third string quarterbacks.

Johnson showcased his speed and agility throughout the season, and can only improve with Ben Roethlisberger back under center.

“It’s Big Ben. He’s great. Just being able to work with him this off-season has been good. Just trying to get the timing down with him, what he likes, how he likes to throw the ball on a certain play or certain route. I’m just trying to pick his brain. I might go back up there next week to work out with him again. It’s just getting that timing down and just trying to get a bond together so we can build that trust.”

I don’t know about you, but I trust Johnson. I trust his connection with Roethlisberger even though I have yet to see it. Because if this guy could dazzle the way he did in his rookie season with all the cards stacked against him? Oh boy. He has yet to be cleared coming off his surgery, but he stays optimistic. We should too.

Just wait ’til he’s healthy.

The Steelers might have a superstar on their hands.


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