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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

Diontae Johnson addresses play where he showed zero effort

Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson holding the ball

Oct 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs after catching a fifty yard touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson decided to give no effort on a crucial play in his team’s Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and he is finally taking some accountability.

Steelers running back Jaylen Warren fumbled the ball on a 3rd-and-2 play early in Sunday’s game. Johnson, who did not make an attempt to block anyone at the snap, appeared to watch the loose ball roll right by him. Bengals players swarmed the loose ball and cornerback DJ Turner scooped it up. You can see the video here.

Johnson claimed after the game that he did not see the ball on the ground. He apparently changed his tune at some point. On Wednesday, Johnson said he spoke with his teammates and admitted he should have been better.

“It was really just me owning up to what I did on Sunday to the team and just let them know it won’t happen again,” Johnson said, via Chris Adamski of “How I feel and how I should go about the situation next time it occurs. I own up to it. I am not perfect. So all I can do is keep moving forward and just play football. That’s all I’m worried about.”

Johnson admitted that the play “looks bad on film” and said he needs to do a better job of fighting until the whistle blows.

The problem for Johnson is that he was loafing the second the ball was snapped. It wasn’t just that he failed to make an attempt to recover the fumble. For whatever reason, he looked like he was completely checked out on a 3rd-and-2 play where he could have been trying to block a defender.

The lack of effort looked particularly bad in the wake of a report that Johnson had a heated confrontation with a teammate in the locker room last week. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin cannot have much patience left for the wide receiver.

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