Diontae Johnson Facing Multi-Week Absence

SEPTEMBER 13: Evaluations on Johnson’s injury have produced a timetable that could leave Johnson shut down for a month. The fifth-year wideout is expected to miss up to four weeks with this hamstring ailment, Dulac adds. Coming into this season, Johnson had only missed two games in total as a pro.

SEPTEMBER 12: The Steelers’ defense was dealt a major blow in their Week 1 loss with Cameron Heyward suffering a groin injury which will sideline him for several weeks. The team’s offense will likewise be shorthanded moving forward.

Wideout Diontae Johnson suffered a hamstring injury against the 49ers on Sunday and it is expected to keep him off the field for a few weeks, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Further evaluation will take place later in the week, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds. An absence of any significant length would be notable for the Steelers’ receiving corps.

Johnson exited Pittsburgh’s loss against San Francisco in the third quarter and did not return. He did not manage to find the endzone during his limited game action, extending a touchdown drought which spanned all of the 2022 campaign. In spite of that, the 27-year-old remains a major part of the team’s passing game, having recorded at least 86 catches and 882 yards in each of the past three seasons. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2021, and earned his lone Pro Bowl nod in the process.

That production earned the former third-rounder a two-year, $36.71MM extension last offseason, putting an end to speculation about his short-term future with the organization. Johnson had been pegged as a likely free agent departure, but he is now on the books through 2024. His absence will be felt in a Steelers’ WR room which will now need to lean heavily on second-year deep threat George Pickens and veteran Allen Robinson. The latter, acquired via trade this offseason, was pegged for a move to the slot but he will likely now resume operating on the perimeter, as he has for much of his career. 2022 fourth-rounder Calvin Austin should see an uptick in slot usage.

Pittsburgh is currently without Miles Boykin due to injury, and Cody White is on injured reserve. The Johnson injury thus leaves the team rather thin at the receiver spot moving forward, and plenty will be asked of Pickens, Robinson and tight end Pat Freiermuth (who himself encountered an injury on Sunday) in the passing game when the Steelers play the Browns in Week 2.

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