Diontae Johnson says Steelers need to ‘not talk as much’

Pittsburgh WR says only focus should be on winning
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Diontae Johnson has a message to his teammates: put up or shut up.

The Steelers’ offense has put up only four touchdowns through the season’s first three weeks and, with that, has come frustration, finger pointing and questioning of the team’s scheme and play calling.

“We knew this coming in,” Johnson said Wednesday. “It’s a new team, new players, obviously we got a new quarterback. So it's going to take time. We're going to get there. I won't count us out just yet. It's still early in the season so we still got a lot of football left. And I feel like we’re going to be fine.”

Johnson has caught 21 passes for 196 yards this season. He has yet to score a touchdown, just like the rest of Pittsburgh’s wide receivers.

“I always have confidence in my teammates because we’re out there playing with each other and I got to have confidence in that. “The coaches are going to put us in the right spots to have success on the field.”

But that hasn’t exactly been the sentiment to this point. A number of players, including Johnson, have questioned offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s decisions. That seemed to change Wednesday, however.

“It's on us to make the plays and the coaches put us in the right spot to get us open and whatnot,” Johnson said. “And I feel like they've been doing that. We just got to play and not talk as much. Just play and it's going to all come together.”

That said, this is the first time since 2001 that a Steelers receiver has not scored a touchdown through the first three weeks of a season. And that might grow on a group that had strong preseason beliefs in its abilities.

It would be understandable if that led to frustrations with Canada, as well as Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky. But Johnson warned against that.

“Just stay in your lane, keep going,” he said. “You can't be drifting in other people's lanes. That's when you go to messing up and worrying about the wrong stuff, and that's not what we're doing.

“We got one focus and that's winning the game, taking each week at a time. We're going to continue to do that and help Mitch to get prepared for this week. Each and every week, actually.”

Johnson has the highest cap hit of any offensive player on Pittsburgh’s roster. For the most part, he’s played well considering the overall lack of offensive production. And he feels like there’s perhaps more for him to do in the pass game.

“The ball ain't going to come to me every time,” he said, noting that he feels like he’s ‘always’ getting open. “So even if the ball’s not coming to me, I'm making sure I'm running my route 100% just in case they do come to me.”

Generally, Johnson has been confined in his targeted routes to the sidelines, to the outsides. And that could be one reason that his big play potential has not been seen yet. So would he like to see more targets over the middle?

“I’m just doing what I'm told to do, going out there and getting open,” said Johnson. “I do have a say, like if I want to move around. If I feel like I can be in a certain position on the field or a certain route, then yeah, they can put me in that position.

“But I just kind of let them do what they do and go along with the game plan. And if I see something I don’t like, I obviously say something about it.”

The Steelers welcome the New York Jets Sunday to Acrisure Stadium. It’s not a spectacular defense, by any stretch. But what lies ahead of this game will be a bigger challenge, with games against the Bills, Bucs, Dolphins and Eagles in October. Those teams are a combined 10-2 through three weeks.

“I’m not worried about none of that,” Johnson said. “They’re human just like us. Whoever line up in front of me is going to get that work regardless. That's the same for the rest of the receiving room as well. We all think like that. They don't matter.”

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