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Diontae Johnson Feels Like He Deserves More Respect

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Steelers WR Diontae Johnson

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded wide receiver Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers in March in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson. There were reports that Johnson wanted out of Pittsburgh, but Mike Tomlin said at the NFL owner’s meetings in late March that a desire to upgrade the team’s cornerback position was the driving force behind the team trading the veteran receiver.

Nevertheless, Johnson is glad to be in Carolina. He’s also carrying a chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove that he’s one of the best separators in the NFL.

“I’m a diamond in the rough and I’m just going to continue to keep elevating. I carry that chip wherever I go ’cause I still get overlooked. I feel like I don’t get the respect I deserve sometimes, so that just makes me go harder. I’m going to keep putting it on film and proving to the league that I’m one of the best separators out there,” Johnson said at Panthers minicamp on Tuesday.

Johnson told reporters that he’s been overlooked since high school. Citing that he didn’t receive a lot of college offers and played at Toledo. So flying under the radar is nothing new for him.

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson against the Cincinnati Bengals, Nov. 26, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Johnson will be the No. 1 wide receiver for second-year quarterback Bryce Young in Carolina. The expectations for Johnson are through the roof.

“I told (head coach) Dave [Canales], we need an X to start with. Where if they don’t respect him, he’s winning, they’re wrong. For us, that vision is you. We put you over there, they don’t have help on that corner, they f***** up,” Panthers offensive coordinator Brad Idzik said of Johnson in a behind the scenes video posted on the Panthers’ YouTube page.

Johnson is a player that Panthers head coach Dave Canales has been watching and studying for a long time.

Canales’ first NFL job was the receivers coach for the Seattle Seahawks. He spent eight seasons in that role before getting his first head coaching job this year. He previously was in Tampa Bay.

Canales believes Johnson will add a different dimension to the Panthers’ passing game. He credited his route-running abilities as elite and thinks the sky’s the limit.

“Diontae can release against the best corners in the league and get open and be available for the quarterback,” Canales said.