Diontae Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers
Wide Receiver #3
Pittsburgh Steelers
Wide Receiver #3
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Diontae Johnson News

Caps off impressive regular season

Johnson brought in three of his four targets for 96 yards in Sunday's 24-22 loss to the Browns.

Analysis: Johnson missed a day of practice during the week due to an illness, but he was fully healthy for the team's Week 17 matchup against Cleveland. The second-year wideout finished his impressive season with 96 receiving yards, his highest total since Week 11. Johnson had some issues with drops earlier in the season along with several other pass catchers in Pittsburgh, but he still led the team with 144 targets over the regular season. He tallied 88 receptions for 93 yards and seven touchdowns along with three rushes for 15 yards. He demonstrated his full potential in 2020 and could serve as the Steelers' clear top receiver next season if JuJu Smith-Schuster signs elsewhere during the offseason. Regardless of his status for next year, Johnson should continue to play a significant role for Pittsburgh during the playoffs.

Jan 4, 2021 11:37 AM EST

Misses practice, but cleared for finale

Johnson was listed as a non-participant in Friday's practice due to an illness, but he doesn't carry a designation into Sunday's game against the Browns.

Analysis: Any absence at practice related to an illness has naturally warranted concern this season, but the Steelers haven't provided any indication his ailment is related to COVID-19. As such, Johnson should be in the clear for the regular-season finale, though how much he actually plays has yet to be determined. The Steelers are already resting starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the contest, and several other top contributors are expected to be rested during the game, if not healthy inactives. Given that Johnson has left multiple games this season due to injury, he would seem to be a prime candidate to play less than his usual allotment of snaps as the Steelers prioritize preserving key players' health for the postseason above all else Week 17.

Jan 1, 2021 2:49 PM EST

Scores seventh touchdown

Johnson caught eight of 14 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown while adding a two-yard rush during Sunday's 28-24 win over the Colts.

Analysis: Johnson led the team in targets while finishing second in catches and receiving yards. The highlight of this performance came on a diving 39-yard touchdown reception that ignited his team's comeback in the third quarter. Johnson has responded encouragingly after his most recent drop issues, hauling in 16 balls for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the last two games. He is also up to seven touchdowns after notching three in his last four games and will look to add to his numbers in next Sunday's regular-season finale against the Browns.

Dec 27, 2020 2:21 PM EST

Leading receiver in latest loss

Johnson caught eight of 13 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown in Monday's 27-17 loss to the Bengals.

Analysis: Johnson scored Pittsburgh's first points with a 23-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and also drew a fourth-down pass interference call to set up Benny Snell's one-yard touchdown run in the fourth. The 24-year-old receiver put his recent struggles with drops in the rear-view mirror and led Pittsburgh in targets, catches and receiving yards. Johnson has been targeted at least 10 times in nine of 13 games played this season, including six of the past seven. He'll hope to lead the struggling Steelers out of their recent malaise in Week 16 against the Colts.

Dec 21, 2020 8:38 PM EST

Moving past drop issues

Coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday that he intends to give Johnson a clean slate after the wideout logged three drops during Sunday's loss to the Bills, Joe Rutter of triblive.com reports.

Analysis: Tomlin said Johnson "responded appropriately" to being benched in the first half, saying "we will move forward." However, Tomlin also noted that "one of the ways you help a young man work through [issues] is to reduce his number of snaps" when talking about Chase Claypool, a hint that while Johnson's playing time doesn't seem to be in jeopardy for Monday's upcoming tilt in Cincinnati, the Steelers could consider a change if drops continue to be a problem.

Dec 16, 2020 3:55 PM EST

Struggles with drops again

Johnson hauled in four of his seven targets for 40 yards in Sunday's 26-15 loss to the Bills.

Analysis: Johnson was targeted three times over the first two drives of Sunday's contest, but he dropped two of those targets in open space. As a result, the 2019 third-rounder appeared to be benched for most of the first half as he now has a league-worst 13 drops this season. Johnson was still effective with the ball in his hands Sunday, but it's safe to wonder whether he'll have a decreased role going forward if he fails to haul in targets.

Dec 14, 2020 1:31 PM EST

Scores in first defeat

Johnson caught eight of 12 targets for 71 yards and a touchdown in Monday's 23-17 loss to Washington.

Analysis: Johnson's performance was highlighted by his three-yard touchdown to open the game's scoring in the second quarter. Although he struggled with drops for the second game in a row, Johnson still led Pittsburgh in receptions and targets. The shifty wideout has now commanded double-digit looks in five straight games, catching at least six passes in all of those outings. With such high involvement in a dangerous offense, Johnson should remain a quality option despite facing a tough Bills defense in Week 14.

Dec 7, 2020 5:38 PM EST

Fails to capitalize on 13 targets

Johnson recorded eight receptions on 13 targets for 46 yards in Week 12 against the Ravens.

Analysis: Johnson led the team with 13 targets, and he benefited from the Steelers continued reliance on their passing attack as Ben Roethlisberger took to the air 51 times. It wasn't Johnson's most efficient performance, however, as he managed only 3.5 yards per target and his longest reception going for only 11 yards. He'll look for a bounceback performance in Week 13 against the Washington.

Dec 2, 2020 4:52 PM EST

Another lucrative receiving day

Johnson reeled in 12 of 16 targets for 111 receiving yards during Sunday's 27-3 win against Jacksonville.

Analysis: No. 1 receiver Juju Smith-Schuster (toe) suffered an injury during the contest, but according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, it seems the team was exercising a cautious approach in restraining his workload with a multi-possession second-half lead in hand. Johnson took full advantage of increased opportunity, more than doubling Chase Claypool for the team lead in targets and translating that into his second consecutive outing of 110-plus receiving yards. A Week 12 matchup against the Ravens looks to be far more prohibitive, as Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest receiving TDs to opposing wideouts on the season (five).

Nov 22, 2020 3:02 PM EST

Logs 116 yards in big performance

Johnson recorded six receptions on 11 targets for 116 yards and one touchdown in Week 10 against the Bengals.

Analysis: Johnson was one of three Steelers' receivers to see double-digit targets, though he far outgained both Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool. He provided several explosive receptions, including gains of 46, 18 and 17 yards. In addition, Johnson snagged his fourth touchdown of the season on a 12-yard slant route late in the first quarter. Johnson has seen at least 10 targets in five of his nine contests this season, and will draw a favorable matchup against the Jaguars in Week 11.

Nov 15, 2020 7:23 PM EST

Racks up 77 yards in win

Johnson hauled in six of his 10 targets for 77 yards while also recording one carry for four yards in Sunday's 24-19 win over the Cowboys.

Analysis: Johnson wasn't very involved in the Steelers' Week 8 matchup against Baltimore, but he was on the field for 81 percent of the offensive snaps against the Cowboys. His performance was highlighted by a 42-yard reception that led to the go-ahead touchdown as Pittsburgh remained undefeated. The 2019 third-rounder will face a slightly tougher test against the Bengals in Week 10, but he's proven to be a significant producer in the Steelers' offense when he's fully healthy.

Nov 9, 2020 2:09 PM EST

Just one catch against Ravens

Johnson hauled in one of his three targets for six receiving yards during Sunday's 28-24 win against Baltimore.

Analysis: Johnson was forced to sit out Week 6 because of a back injury, but he re-emerged last Sunday against the Titans with a nine-catch, 80-yard, two-touchdown performance. The 2019 third-round pick enjoyed an exciting start to the season with 13 receptions, 149 yards and a touchdown Weeks 1 and 2, but he's since dealt with injury and has been held under 10 receiving yards over three of his past four appearances. An upcoming matchup against the Cowboys' 32nd-ranked scoring defense provides Johnson with an opportunity to get back on track, after he was slowed during the Steelers' most recent practice week because of toe and ankle issues.

Nov 1, 2020 5:39 PM EST

Logs full practice

Johnson (toe) returned to a full practice Thursday, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.

Analysis: Johnson, who sat out Wednesday's session, returned to the lineup last weekend after a Week 6 absence due to a back injury and proceeded to rack up nine catches on 15 targets for 80 yards and two TDs in the Steelers' 27-24 win over the Titans. With a full practice under his belt Thursday after managing his toe issue, Johnson is poised to handle his usual starting role against the 5-1 Ravens on Sunday.

Oct 29, 2020 12:54 PM EST

Aiming to practice Thursday

Johnson (ankle) told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he intends to take the practice field Thursday.

Analysis: Johnson is coming off one of his best fantasy performances of the season with two touchdowns Week 7 against Tennessee, but the injury bug bit again and he was forced to leave the contest early. The second-year wideout proceeded to begin the week with a missed practice session, but it seems he intends to be back out there Thursday, which would only increase his chances of getting to suit up for a key divisional matchup Week 8 in Baltimore.

Oct 29, 2020 6:17 AM EST

Misses practice Wednesday

Johnson (toe) didn't practice Wednesday, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.

Analysis: Wednesday's injury report doesn't reference an ankle bruise the wideout reportedly suffered in Week 7 against the Titans, while it's also worth noting that Johnson, who has often sat out practice on Wednesdays, managed a toe issue earlier in the season. We'll revisit Johnson's status Thursday to see if he returns to a full session or remains out or limited as the Steelers continue their preparation for Sunday's game against the Ravens.

Oct 28, 2020 1:55 PM EST

Two touchdowns prior to injury

Johnson (ankle) recorded nine receptions on 15 targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Titans.

Analysis: Johnson returned after a Week 6 absence with a back injury and showed no rust early on. He tallied two of the first three Steelers' touchdowns on 11 and nine yard receptions respectively. He was also Ben Roethlisberger's favorite wideout, as Johnson picked up a career-best 15 targets. Despite the excellent performance, Johnson was forced to exit the game in the midst of the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Brooke Pryor of ESPN.comreported that the injury would not jeopardize Johnson's status for Week 8, though it will be worth noting his practice participation leading up to the Steelers' contest against the Ravens.

Oct 25, 2020 2:45 PM EST

Logs full practice

Johnson (back) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, Missi Matthews of the Steelers' official site reports.

Analysis: Johnson's back injury caused him to miss Sunday's divisional win over the Browns, but he now appears fully on track to return for the Steelers' Week 7 contest against the undefeated Titans. If Johnson is indeed able to return to the starting lineup while avoiding any setbacks, he stands to handle his usual role in three-receiver sets alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Chase Claypool, while James Washington would seemingly become the odd man out.

Oct 21, 2020 12:48 PM EST

On pace to practice Wednesday

Johnson (back) is expected to practice Wednesday, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: Johnson has been bit by the injury bug this season, but due to an unexpected Week 4 bye, he only missed this past Sunday's win against the Browns. His current concern is a back issue, which he picked up Week 5 and only allowed for one limited session last week. He'll look to elevate to full in advance of this Sunday's matchup at Tennessee.

Oct 20, 2020 9:29 AM EST

Not playing Sunday

Johnson (back) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Browns, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.

Analysis: Johnson took a hit to his back during Pittsburgh's Week 5 win against the Eagles, finishing his day with one catch for minus-two yards. During the week, he followed a DNP/LP/DNP practice regimen before the Steelers' ultimately made the call on his availability Sunday. With Johnson out of the lineup, the offense will lean on JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud at wide receiver.

Oct 16, 2020 11:41 AM EST

Returns to practice

Johnson (back) returned to a limited practice Thursday, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.

Analysis: Johnson sat out Wednesday's session, with his limited participation Thursday a good sign with regard to his Week 6 availability. Look for Friday's final injury report to clarify whether Johnson approaches Sunday's game against the Browns listed as questionable, or free from an injury designation.

Oct 15, 2020 12:47 PM EST

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