Wednesday, Ian Rapoport reportedJames Washington will miss "a few weeks" with a shoulder injury suffered in the Steelers' 26-23 overtime loss to the Ravens Sunday at Heinz Field. In that game, Washington caught three passes for 52 yards, but it was an incompletion late in the third quarter that sent him out of the game:
This comes just one day after Mike Tomlin told reporters at the Rooney Complex that Washington would be "questionable" for the team's Oct. 13 showdown vs. the Chargers in Los Angeles. During his press conference, Tomlin also revealed that Jaylen Samuels had a knee scope performed on Monday and will miss around a month.
Add Mason Rudolph, who suffered a concussion against the Ravens, to the mix, and there are question marks aplenty surrounding this Steelers offense. Right now, it's unclear whether Rudolph will bounce back and get the start against the Chargers or if undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges will make his first career start.
The Steelers will face the Chargers then enter their bye week before facing the Dolphins on Monday, Oct. 28, then the Colts on Sunday, Nov. 3.
This season, Washington ranks fourth on the Steelers with 140 yards and sixth with nine receptions. His three receptions against the Ravens marked a season-high, however, and it appeared he was finding some semblance of a groove in the offense.
Now, though, the team will need to rely more on JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and — checks notes — Johnny Holton, Ryan Switzer and Donte Moncrief at wide receiver. They'll also likely utilize tight ends Vance McDonald and Nick Vannett, and running back James Conner, to make up for the loss of Washington.
Moncrief has been inactive for two of the past three games after dropping four passes in the first two weeks. The veteran said he's ready to go if called upon.
"We got work with all the quarterbacks on some of the days when Ben (Roethlisberger) wasn't here. We got a lot of work with all the guys," Moncrief said of his time with Hodges. "It's just football. (I need) to get back to football and have fun."
I mean ... Yikes. You read the other names available for the Steelers at receiver, right? This team is 1-4, and while Washington hadn't quite found his footing in the offense, his latest performance showed promise, and I personally still believe in him as a key component for this team. Having his momentum halted like this is a massive blow, especially as the team hits the road with the starting quarterback situation up in the air and also down Samuels.
In a best-case scenario, Moncrief remembers how to use his hands, McDonald stays healthy and effective, and the team finds its running game to help take some pressure off either Rudolph or Hodges, allowing the passing game to open up downfield.
That's a lotta "ifs," though. A rough season just got rougher for the Steelers.