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Rookie TE Darnell Washington finds success against T.J. Watt Tuesday

Maybe that 6’7, 264 pound frame will come in handy after all?

Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) warms up before the start of the NCAA College Football National Championship game between TCU and Georgia on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. News Joshua L Jones Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Reports on Steelers rookie TE Darnell Washington have been a little bit of a mixed bag through the first several training camp practices. He showed up big on Tuesday, however, in the team’s first padded practice when HC Mike Tomlin asked him to go against LB T.J. Watt in the day’s backs-on-backers drill.

The backs-on-backers drill sets linebackers against running backs, fullbacks, and in this case, tight ends, with the 1-on-1 matchup providing linebackers the opportunity to practice their pash rushing skills, while the blockers work on their skills in pass protection.

Steelers beat reporter Nick Farabaugh noted that Washington received two reps against star LB T.J. Watt — winning each of them prior to losing his third rep against newly-extended Alex Highsmith.

As the team continues to work through questions on the offensive line, including whether or not LT Broderick Jones will open up the season over veteran Dan Moore Jr. However, one thing is clear — Washington’s ability as a blocker will quickly make him a favorite of QB Kenny Pickett and RB Najee Harris alike. Washington didn’t allow a single pressure in 31 snaps as a pass blocker in his 2022 season with Georgia, also ranking top-12 among tight ends with an 81.3 run-blocking grade.