Will Johnson returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason training activities following an earlier injury to practice for dual roles on the Steelers offense. While the Steelers haven’t dedicated any player as a full-time fullback since Dan Kreider played that position, Johnson has often been used in that role. In 2014, Johnson is likely to be given more time at the tight end position and used as an extra outlet for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Johnson has played multiple positions for the Steelers during the majority of his career. Whether he was lined up in an I-formation in the backfield to act as a lead-blocker or at tight end to run out-routes, Johnson has provided the Steelers offense with a variety of looks. Johnson is expected to attend meetings at both positions.
After being signed to the Steelers’ offseason roster on March 21, 2012, Johnson (West Virginia) played in 16 games during the regular season. At fullback, Johnson was mainly used as a blocker. At tight end and out of the backfield, Johnson caught 15 passes for 137 yards (a 9.1 yards-per-catch average) and one touchdown. He helped give the Steelers eight first-downs.
Johnson’s performance was lower during the 2013 season, being used very little as a rusher. In 15 games, Johnson had eight receptions for 41 yards and one touchdown.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for a more explosive offense this coming NFL regular season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger commented following OTAs, “For me, right now, I’d like to say we’ll be a fast, high-scoring offense. That’s running the ball, that’s throwing the ball, whatever it is. But I want us to be fast and I want us to put up a lot of points on the board.”
With what appears to be an increased interest in getting Johnson more involved with such an offense, the Steelers seem to be making moves that will give Roethlisberger and company more options to not only be quicker, but improve over the past two seasons that saw Pittsburgh struggle to get the scoreboard to light up in their favor.
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