Johnson’s injuries leave team in tough spot ☕


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Diontae Johnson celebrates a touchdown with James Washington and Ryan Switzer last weekend against the Chiefs -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Mike Tomlin wouldn't rule out any players for Sunday's preseason game in Nashville, Tenn., against the Titans.

But the week of practices usually tell that story, even if Tomlin isn't willing to do so.

Guys who don't participate throughout the week are unlikely to play, especially if they're rookies. And that means rookie receiver Diontae Johnson would normally miss his second preseason game after also sitting out the opener with a hip issue.

But because time is running out to evaluate players and decide on early-season roles, that might be different this week.

"We weigh this element of the evaluation heavily," Tomlin said Friday. "So won't eliminate anybody (from participation). Maybe even a couple of guys will have workouts at the stadium in an effort to give them every opportunity to participate."

Johnson, a third-round pick out of Toledo, hasn't practiced since catching three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown last Saturday night against the Chiefs because of an undisclosed injury. He could be one of the players to which Tomlin referred.

The Steelers want to get more of a look at Johnson after he missed large portions of OTAs, training camp and now two preseason games with leg issues.

There is some growing frustration regarding Johnson's availability among the coaching staff.

"He’ll contribute because he’s a quick study. He is intelligent. He’s obviously quick and he can execute routes," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. "He’s still got a lot to learn. He’s got to get through the growing pains of pain and injury. It’s always preparing your body to avoid injury. That’s the thing that gets you first. You’ve got to get him through those things. I’m hopeful he can help us in some type of role."

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