For a player who has garnered few column inches during his rookie season, James Washington has been all over the news for all the wrong reason in the last 24 hours or so. In a game full of mistakes against the Denver Broncos, his dropped pass has become the talking piece that has somehow overshadowed the two fumbles and two interceptions that really cost Pittsburgh the game.
Fueled in part by Ben Roethlisberger’s answer to a question about him the day before, Washington found himself the center of attention after practice on Wednesday as reporters sought a response to his quarterbacks remarks. Contrary to Big Ben’s suggestion he was lacking in confidence, Washington revealed there was actually a much simpler explanation for his failure to hold on to the ball, as he told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
“Well for me, you’ve just got to run through it. It’s nothing about confidence, just got to go out there and overcome adversity and execute.”
“I just kinda felt like I misjudged it. The ball, the nose was still in the air, so, for my part, I just, like I said, I just misjudged it, I gotta execute better.”
However, if he took exception to the comments of Roethlisberger, that was something he was not going to share with the media.
“You know with him being the captain of this team, he has freedom of speech, as well as we all do.”
If he is not finding much comfort from the words of Big Ben, Washington is at least getting support from other members of the team.
“My brothers around here, the other receivers, when one gets down we’re all down, so they’re just always in my head trying to give me encouragement and trying to get me back up. When I got drafted I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Like any rookie you have to go through adversity, whether it’s high school or college or now. That’s what I’m going through right now.
“We’re all made differently. None of us are the same. Sometimes it takes longer for others and sometimes it’s quicker for others. At some point in time in our life we’ll all grow up and overcome that stage.”
As his teammate at Oklahoma State, Mason Rudolph knows Washington better than anyone else and he is one quarterback on the roster who still has the receiver’s back when speaking to the press.
“If you’re referring to that ‘go’ ball, which a lot of us are, he didn’t run through it and that’s something he does all the time, something he’s done for many years,”
“People around the building, I keep hearing, ‘Hey, listen, tell him Emmanuel Sanders, even Antonio (Brown), Martavis Bryant, they all took about 10 weeks to kind of get going, almost a season to kind of get going, to understand and get comfortable. He’s a great player and he’s going to come along.”
“The more work he gets with (quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger) in the offseason, as well as these next six weeks into the playoffs, he’s going to keep learning his craft and he’s going to produce.”
After 226 receptions for 4472 yards and 39 touchdowns in college, the 2017 Biletnikoff Winner did not forget how to catch when he made it to the NFL. The slow start to his professional career matches that of many of his illustrious predecessors and his impressive performances in preseason were just a taste of his potential before he was injured. Catching a go route has certainly not been a problem for him in the past either.
Hopefully Washington can rebound in Week 13, assuming he is given an opportunity to feature at some point in the game. While he might not have lost confidence in himself, it certainly appears Roethlisberger is starting to and that could hinder the rookie’s development more than any issues Washington might have with his own game.