UNITY TWP., Pa. — The Steelers’ offense wants to be tight end multiple, and they will be if their first game against Tampa Bay is any indication. But there is one key player who allows them to do a lot more in this area than they did last year, and his name is Darnell Washington. Washington certainly still has a little ways to go in terms of making a supreme impact on the team, but he played with the first-team offense on Friday, signaling a level of comfort with the massive tight end.
Matt Canada broke down exactly what the team was looking for from Darnell Washington and that position, and it means that the tight ends can help the offense become far more versatile than they were a year ago. Think of it as a supersized version of what they did down the stretch to enhance the offense in the second half.
“I’m happy with Darnell and his physicality is impressive,” Canada said. “He had the one catch, but you know, there’s a lot there for us. He can block on the edge and do a lot of things, so that’ll be fun. We’re a long way from everybody, but young guys like that we got a lot of steps to take with them. But very, very pleased with where we were coming out of the first game.”
Ferocious down block by Darnell Washington lol. pic.twitter.com/aHZeegPkWB
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) August 13, 2023
Washington is rounding out his game and showed his ferocity up front with a fantastic down block against the Buccaneers front to help spring Jaylen Warren. Despite only having one catch, the film shows Washington getting open through physicality and a number of other ways.
Really like the physicality here, playing through contact at the top of the route from Darnell Washington. He creates separation for himself in the mOF.
Rudolph drops his eyes vs the blitz and doesn't see him but an encouraging rep nonetheless. pic.twitter.com/DqjrBJpy0N
— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) August 13, 2023
The team now needs to work Washington into more sets with the rest of the tight ends while expanding his role in the offense. He may have the clearest path to playing time with an easy projection for his abilities while learning the nuances of the NFL to reach his ceiling.