In a report by Trib Live reporter Mark Kaboly, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been designing more pass plays for fullback Will Johnson. Neither offensive coordinator Todd Haley or running backs coach Kirby Wilson have specifically told Johnson he will be more involved in the passing game , but from the looks of three weeks of OTA's the Steelers may be hinting at it .
Heath Miller's knee injury and no viable replacement to put a sustainable dent in his team high 71 receptions , the Steelers may turn to will Johnson , their bruising but soft handed fullback to fill the void. Miller facing the possibility of being out at least the first half of the season , could be an opening for Johnson to showcase his talents and become an integral part of the Steelers offense. "We are doing a lot more; that's been evident (during OTAs)," Johnson said. "In the red zone, they put some angle routes in there for me. We are doing a lot of things. If they are impressed, they will show me by adding plays where I can get out in some routes, particularly in space. That's how I will know if they are interested in using my hands."
Becoming an integral part of the Steelers offense last year , Johnson started 7 games after becoming the emergency starter after David Johnson was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Will Johnson rushing 2 times for 7 yards but was a force in blocking and more importantly in the passing game catching 15 of 22 targeted passes for 137 yards and 1 TD. Johnson's main interest is continuing his Cinderella type story from working three part time jobs to starting fullback in the NFL."I will do whatever I can do to make myself more valuable to the team, and if that means catching passes, then I am fine with that," Johnson said. "You have to be ready for everything, but my main focus will always be blocking. I don't mind catching the ball that's fine and all but first and foremost is blocking.I want to perfect my craft," Johnson said. "I want to become a better coachable player, and if there was anything that was lacking last season, I am trying to focus in on that and sharpen that."
Johnson was on the field a lot. He played in as many as 32 snaps (about half of the offense snaps per game) a handful of times last year. Johnson's biggest problem last year was sustaining blocks."My initial attack is there, but I need to stay on them longer and finish them," he said.So Johnson is working out with the tight ends hitting the blocking sled and working on line-of-scrimmage blocking to help him when he is in the standup position outside the tight end."Every day I am learning something different, especially using the outside zone scheme," Johnson said. "You can see that I am still learning how to read it."
A great attitude that seems to be in the mentality of every player on the roster. Johnson could emerge as not only a secret weapon , but as a young leader of this team as well. His example of the embracing of the "do whatever it takes to help this team win" attitude can hopefully be enveloped and ingested into each player's mentality this season as the Steelers strive for their 7th Super Bowl ring and championship.