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Bleacher Report Wants Steelers To ‘Get TEs More Involved’ Offensively In Week 2


No Diontae Johnson, George Pickens dealing with a hamstring injury that popped up Saturday limiting him in practice, and an offensive line that really struggled to get going in the run game has things looking pretty dire entering the Week Two Monday Night Football matchup against the Cleveland Browns for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hear that music though? By God, that’s the sound of the Steelers’ tight ends potentially coming to the rescue — should offensive coordinator Matt Canada call upon them more in Week Two.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wants to see the Steelers utilize tight ends Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington and Connor Heyward more in Week Two against the Browns, who boast a terrific defensive front and secondary under first-year defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

“If Pittsburgh hopes to get its offense going against Cleveland, it needs to rely on its tight ends more. Pat Freiermuth is a terrific talent, and while he did suffer a chest injury just before halftime, getting him the ball once on only four targets was unacceptable,” Knox writes. “The strength of Cleveland’s defense is its d-line and its secondary. Getting Freiermuth heavily involved can help Pittsburgh find mismatches at the intermediate level. It would also behoove the Steelers to use rookie tight end Darnell Washington as an extra pass-protector against Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith and the Browns pass rush.

“Washington is still developing as a pass-catcher but has the size and strength to immediately contribute as an in-line blocker. He played just 24 snaps in Week 1 but needs to see the field more—along with Freiermuth—in Week 2.”

The Steelers’ passing game was a major mess in Week One. Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled with his accuracy all game and never really got going in the passing game. That included never getting Freiermuth going. While he did hit him for a 3-yard touchdown late in the first half, they were unable to connect on three other targets, two of which put Freiermuth in awkward, vulnerable positions that could have gotten him hurt worse than he was after taking a shot to the chest.

Washington was as advertised in his NFL debut, handling the edge rather well as blocker, pancaking Nick Bosa on one rep. He’ll need to play even more this week on Monday night against another great defensive front in Cleveland, aiming to give help to offensive tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor against pass rushers Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.

Don’t forget about Connor Heyward, either. Heyward had a breakout game in Week 18 last season against the Browns, hauling in three passes for 45 yards in the season-ending win, including a 27-yarder down the middle that saw him leap and twist in midair to get to the football.

Without Johnson and potentially a limited Pickens, the Steelers are going to need guys to step up in the passing game. Freiermuth and Heyward need more work in that area of the game if the Steelers really want to attack the middle of the field and create space on the boundary. Against a great defensive front, the Steelers should spend a lot of time in 12 personnel with Washington on the field, too.

Get the tight ends more involved in Week Two, Matt Canada. It might help you win the game.

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