James Washington Responds To Criticism From His Quarterback

Steelers Rookie Says "I Have To Bounce Back"

Eric Hagman
November 28, 2018 - 5:56 pm
Steelers Receiver James Washington

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - A day after Ben Roethlisberger sharply criticized James Washington for dropping a deep pass against Denver, the Steelers rookie receiver accepted responsibility and indicated he had no problem with the quarterback's harsh words.

"You know with him being the captain of this team he has freedom of speech," Washington said after Wednesday's practice.  "I just have to bounce back."

On the play in question, Washington was running open along the sideline when he left his feet to try to catch the ball rather than continue running and allow it to fall into his hands. 

"I just kind of felt I misjudged (the ball)," Washington explained.  "The nose of the ball was still in the air and I misjudged it.  I just have to run through it.  It's nothing about confidence.  I just have to go out there and overcome adversity and execute."

Was he upset when he watched the video of the play?

"Every receiver is when they drop a pass, but I just have to overcome adversity."

Washington doesn't know if he still has Roethlisberger and Coach Mike Tomlin in his corner, saying  "I just have to bounce back and put it in their eyes that I'm capable of making those plays and moving forward."

He said his fellow receivers support him.  

"When one gets down, we're all down, so they're just always in my ear giving me encouragement and trying to get me back up."

Washington, a second-round pick, has only 8 catches in 10 games.  He realizes more is expected from him.

"When I was drafted I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Washington said.  "Like any rookie you have to go through adversity, whether it's high school, college or now, and that's what I'm going through right now."

Also on Wednesday, receiver Eli Rogers returned to practice for the first time since tearing an ACL in last season's playoff game.  Rogers, who caught 66 passes the previous two seasons, admitted he's noticed the inconsistency with the third wideout position.

"I always try to motivate the other guys to work hard and be detailed," Rogers said.  "(So) it does hurt, it does sting a little, like acid eating you up a little bit on the inside. I'm thankful to be back and to be here ready to move forward."

He's excited to become involved in Randy Fichtner's offense.

"I just think Coach Randy calls a myriad of formations," Rogers said.  "He gives everyone the opportunity to play everywhere on the field.  The playbook has a lot of routes, and I love running routes, so there should be a lot of opportunity there."

Rogers remains on the physically unable to perform list.  He can be activated to the 53-man roster within 21 days.