Washington, who was a second-round pick last year, said his “mind was everywhere” after going through the draft process and trying to learn the Steelers offense. He wound up catching 16 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown while seeing action on 526 snaps, which supports the idea that he was overwhelmed at times.
Last year was last year and Washington’s assessment of where he is this year is in line with Smith-Schuster’s read on the situation. He said he’s “just thinking about playing football” now that he knows how life goes in the NFL.
“It wasn’t what I expected,” Washington said, via the team’s website. “It was a lot, just because of the ups and downs. One week you’re playing good and the next week you’re not. One week you’re inactive, then it’s like you question yourself and you think am I really good enough. It just kind of gives you that challenge to answer the call. Without challenges you wouldn’t have the opportunity to get better, or know what your weakness are or what your strengths are. My teammates really helped. When you’re down like that, this team does a good job of pulling you up and telling you what you’re capable of. I learned a lot and grew a lot over the season, just building my skills and looking forward to next season.”
Donte Moncrief has also been the subject of positive notices this offseason and the Steelers will likely continue to give both men the opportunity to make plays alongside Smith-Schuster as they work to show that their offense can thrive in the wake of Antonio Brown‘s departure.