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Steelers coaches and players eager for Diontae Johnson’s return

There is no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has struggled throughout the 2023 regular season. Whether you are talking about points per game, or just the ability to move the football. The Steelers have struggled.

What has caused the offense to look so bad? Not having someone like Diontae Johnson in the lineup certainly would contribute to the team’s issues.

Johnson, who injured his hamstring in Week 1 and was placed on Injured Reserve (IR), is now eligible to return to the team following the bye, and the players and coaches are excited to have him back and readily available.

“Just having him around and being around and being out there, it’s gonna open up all those guys,” wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson said. “Just having his presence out there and his ability to win 1-on-1s is going to create other opportunities for the rest of the guys.

“To have two legit wideouts is huge. Teams would be dying to have two legit wideouts and we have two legit ones. If somebody wants to double-team one, Diontae can win 1-on-1. If they want to double team ‘G.P.’ (wide receiver George Pickens), Diontae can win 1-on-1s in elite fashion.

“He’s one of the best route runners in the league at creating separation and we missed that, we needed that. And so it’s good to have him back.”

Johnson is likely the security blanket Kenny Pickett has been wanting when things break down on any given play. When in doubt, trust Johnson is able to create separation and be available for a pass. In that regard, getting him back can help open up the entire offense and help get things back on track.

George Pickens stepped up in Johnson’s stead, dealing with double teams as opposing defenses viewed him as the WR1 on the Steelers roster. So, what will defenses do if/when Johnson returns? According to Jackson, he wishes them luck.

“To be honest with you, I don’t even care,” Jackson said. “Whoever they double, the other guy gotta win. They may double both of them, they may double one. Whoever’s not getting doubled, they gotta win the 1-on-1.”

The hope is Johnson’s hamstring is fully healed and won’t be a lingering issue throughout the rest of the season. If he can return to 100% health, and stay there, he very well could be a player who can help unlock the Steelers offense and help them look more like the preseason version of themselves, and less like the Weeks 1-5 version.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Rams following their Week 6 bye.

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