Dionate Johnson will have to prove he can handle a full “load” as receiver and return man

NCAA Football: Miami at ToledoRaj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a very versatile player in Diontae Johnson, but he will have to prove he can handle the workload at the NFL level.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Diontae Johnson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they technically used one of the picks they received from the Oakland Raiders for Antonio Brown to select the dynamic Toledo receiver.

Not only did they use the Raiders’ pick, but they drafted a player who is primarily compared to Brown as a receiver, route runner and return man. When Brown was drafted in the sixth round out of Central Michigan, he was predominantly a return man, and worked his way into the discussion at the wide receiver position.

As Johnson enters his first training camp as a professional, he has already been alerted to the conditioning necessary to succeed at the highest level. After dealing with hamstring injuries throughout minicamp and Organized Team Activities (OTAs), special teams coach Danny Smith is challenging the young player to come to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA more prepared for the rigors of NFL life.

“I don’t want to bad-rap the kid, but you saw some hamstring issues early (in rookie minicamp and OTAs). So can he? I don’t know. He’s gotta be in tip-top shape. You talk about being a wide receiver, a punt returner, a kick returner in this league? Your ‘hams’ better be in pretty good shape. He’s gotta understand that. I think that’s a maturation process. I think he’s gotta learn that.” Smith told Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com.

“We’ll see what kind of shape he comes back in and how much he can do them all. Can he carry that load remains to be seen.”

Don’t let a hint of criticism skew your view of the potential Johnson has, especially as a player who is dynamic whenever he has the football in his hands.

“I studied him a lot. I liked him a lot. I put together tape on him. I went over to Toledo to visit with him and meet him, I spent a lot of time with him. He’s a good player, a real good player. We’ll see how he handles all this at the next level but he’s a very good player.

“He’s got great hands. And if you look, he’s had some drops on returns. He has a technique issue that we’re working on, but he has great hands. He can stick his foot in the ground and change direction, he likes it, he wants to do it, that’s the upside on him. I’m excited.”

Some fans have already penciled Johnson’s name relatively high on the depth chart, and while him not making the team as a third round pick is extremely doubtful, expecting him to make big plays from the moment he walks onto the field are certainly lofty expectations. When you look at how Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and even Martavis Bryant, took some time to get acclimated on the field as a receiver, it should dampen some of the immediate expectations some have for Johnson.

The fastest way for Johnson to get on the field is by way of special teams, and if special teams coordinator Danny Smith is challenging your conditioning, it would be wise of the young man to heed his advice.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp this Thursday!

Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster ranked 6th by PFF regarding catchable target percentage

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh SteelersCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ QB/WR duo was one of the best in the NFL at this particular statistic in 2018.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is excited about the 2019 season, but are also a bit apprehensive when it comes to life without Antonio Brown. While mainstream media continues to suggest the loss of Le’Veon Bell, who didn’t play a snap in the NFL last season, will impact the team, losing Brown’s 15 touchdowns is a legitimate concern.

Many are wondering if JuJu Smith-Schuster will be able to fill the shoes of Brown and be Roethlisberger’s top target this season. Well, if there is one thing going the Steelers’ way at this point it is the fact Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster have a very good rapport on the football field.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released an article ranking the Top 10 current QB/WR duos regarding ‘catchable target percentage’. How did PFF come up with these statistics?

Charting every throw at the NFL level since 2006, we at PFF have labeled all passes with an intended receiver as either catchable or uncatchable. Below is a list of the top-10 active wide receivers with the highest catchable target percentage in the regular season of the PFF Era (2006-19).

Take a look at the Top 10:

10. Tyler Lockett, Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks
9. Julian Edelman, Tom BradyNew England Patriots
8. Tyler Boyd, Andy DaltonCincinnati Bengals
7. Bradin Cooks, Jared GoffLos Angeles Rams

6. JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, BEN ROETHLISBERGER, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

79.5% Catchable Target Percentage

Save for the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh threw on downs with a distance of five yards or less more than any other team in 2018 (158). The key reason for this? Roethlisberger’s catchable pass percentage, or more specifically, his catchable pass rate when targeting Smith-Schuster.

In just two seasons with the Steelers, the USC alumnus has become the number-one pass-catching option on one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL and has done so by securing 70.5% of balls deemed catchable that come his way.

5. Mohamed Sanu, Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons
4. Keenan Allen, Philip RiversLos Angeles Chargers
3. Adam Thielen, Kirk CousinsMinnesota Vikings
2. Michael Thomas, Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints
1. Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff — Los Angeles Rams

Looking at the above list, Smith-Schuster and Roethlisberger being so high on the list certainly is impressive considering they only have two years together, but it also should be a bright spot for the fan base as the team now prepares for the 2019 season without Brown in the 412 area code.

What do you think of the list? Do you see the Steelers duo being ranked just right? Or do you think their ranking is bogus? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for all things black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp at the end of this week!

Podcast: Bold predictions for the 2019 Training Camp

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Bold Predictions for Training Camp
  • Players reporting to camp in style?
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Matt Feiler not expecting anything handed to him during training camp

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh SteelersCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It is hard to believe, but the Pittsburgh Steelers return to the gridiron this week when they report back to training camp. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team returns from their summer break, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how one of the few starting spots available during training camp, at right tackle, is up for grabs — according to Matt Feiler.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have many starting positions available in 2019, but one of them is at right tackle. While most think Matt Feiler is the leader in the clubhouse, Feiler himself knows nothing is given.

Assuming the position not an option

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Matt Feiler may be the incumbent, but he doesn’t consider himself the presumptive starter at right offensive tackle heading into training camp.

Not by a long shot.

“I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler insisted this spring. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.”

Feiler started the last five games in succession, nine of the last 10 and 10 of 16 overall in 2018 at the position that by and large had belonged to Marcus Gilbert when healthy ever since the Steelers invested a second-round pick in Gilbert in 2011.

Gilbert started 88 of the 89 regular-season games he appeared in with the Steelers, but he was available for just 13 of 32 games combined over the past two campaigns (eight in 2017 and five last season).

He’s no long in the picture, but there are options at the position.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • When it comes to football with many Pittsburgh Steelers players, it isn’t just a game — it is family.

Family tradition

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler knew what the Steelers were looking for, well enough that it was recognizable upon discovery.

Now that they’ve found it, the pressure is on to justify the investment in first-round pick Devin Bush.

“There will be great expectations, and he knows that,” Butler acknowledged during Mandatory Veteran Minicamp. “And that’s OK, because in order to be successful in this league you gotta perform under pressure.

“You gotta perform under pressure and he’s going to have to do that, as well as his coaches.”

The Steelers were adamant in their desire to bolster inside linebacker in the draft, but they were also aware their options were limited in terms of being able to make a splash.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • For those hoping to hear about a new collective bargaining agreement before the start of the 2019 season, the NFL and NFLPA have reportedly had some good talks on that front.

NFL, NFLPA: We had “productive, constructive and beneficial” CBA talks

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

The NFL and NFLPA gathered for their fourth set of talks about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Wednesday and the schedule called for the meetings to last for three days.

There was a change in plans, however, and the two sides wrapped things up after several hours of conversations. A joint statement from the league and the union didn’t discuss the reason for the change, but did paint a positive picture of the work that went on.

“Today’s meeting was productive, constructive and beneficial for both sides, and the meetings between the NFLPA’s Executive Committee and the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee will continue.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • Social Media Madness

Pick Your Poison: What would be the ideal way for the Steelers to roll into camp? In style, or all business?

The Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp this week, and it begs a question on how the team will show up to Saint Vincent College.

The Pittsburgh Steelers make their annual trip to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this week for 2019 training camp. Over the years players have made all sorts of entrances to camp.

  • As shown in the image above, Brett Keisel would show up driving a tractor.
  • James Harrison once drove a fire truck to the dorms.
  • James Harrison also showed up in a smart car which he barely fit in one year.
  • Antonio Brown showed up in a Rolls Royce with his signature on it.
  • Antonio Brown also showed up in a classic Rolls Royce with a drive.
  • Last year Antonio Brown dropped into camp via helicopter with his entire family.
  • Vince Williams showed up last year wearing a ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vest, blaring his entrance music, and grasping a heavyweight title belt.

There have been plenty other players who have come into camp in style, while some just showing up to do work.

I have always been one who believed the Steelers could use less pomp and circumstance when it comes to their triumphant entrances to camp, and would rather just see players carrying their pillows and suitcases into the dorms ready to get to work. Maybe I’m old fashioned in this sense, but the above examples always just seemed like players screaming for attention.

This isn’t to suggest teams who just have a standard report date and no fan fare are better off, this is strictly personal preference. So, with this week’s “Pick Your Poison”, do you like the no nonsense approach, or are you the person who gets a good laugh out of some of the players showing up in style?

Let us know by voting in the poll below, and be sure to explain yourself by leaving a comment in the comment section below!!