Steelers FB… or was it TE/FB… or just TE… whatever, #85 David Johnson is more than likely done for the season after Marcus Gilbert was pushed down and fell on Johnson’s leg in the preseason opener against the Eagles. So now what? Johnson in my opinion was a rather underrated player on the offense. His improvement over the course of the season far exceeded most on the team. His receiving stats were never anything to drool over (which would be the case for anyone if they aren’t thrown to often), but his blocking improved late in the season. He somehow found that extra step to get infront of a blocker and figured a way to get a bit lower on a running play in order to get a little more leverage on his assignment. Even though Tomlin backpedaled a bit by announcing that David Johnson wasn’t solely a fullback, he was sure to have a promising season at the fullback spot. Such is the way in the NFL.
Fret not my fellow citizens. There is hope yet in someone other than Ashely, who will be consistently that up close and personal with Big Ben’s big keister. Much like Master Yoda telling Luke that there’s another Skywalker to bring hope to the Rebellion and the universe, so to am I here to tell all of you that there’s another Johnson that could be exactly the answer at fullback for the Steelers.
Will Johnson, who just so happens to be already on the Steelers roster (for now) could be exactly what the Steelers need. W. Johnson is a pure fullback who was just signed to the Steelers in March. W.J.’s story is a bit of an interesting one. He graduated from WVU in 2010/11 but went undrafted. Once the lockout ended, he pretty much was lost in the shuffle of all the other players out there who usually get signed to something during a very long off-seasonal period. W.J. stayed in shape all year long by continuing to train in WV. He attended the Pro Day at WVU and was reported to have greatly impressed Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert – benching 225 lbs. 30 times will do that. He impressed enough that he was signed and began workouts with the team once OTA’s started.
While our former hero, D.J., gobbled up most of the time in camp, W.J. has been showing that he is a consistent and versatile back. Maybe he hasn’t been stellar enough to shake up positional battles at camp – 4 TE’s and a TE/FB to battle it all out- but he was certainly bound to make the practice squad. Now that D.J. is bound for the IR, all hope at a Todd Haley fullback is placed in Will Johnson. He’s strong, has good technique. He’s a bit on the tall end at 6′-2″ for the position, but has pretty good hands for a back and is very athletic.
The focus as of now has been the short game for the offense, and until we see more of Haley’s offensive scheme as the preseason progresses we may not really know if W.J. and his skills are a good match. We will all witness this in the coming weeks right up to the season opener. The TE battle has certainly cleared up and now the fullback questions is all but answered with W.J. needing to fill the role. I don’t think not having a true fullback is an option for Haley’s offense, so something needs to happen there.
I’m pulling for the guy. I hope he can fit in the offense and mature quickly or the offense could be as disappointing as having to kiss your twin sister…..