The Steelers lost backup wide receiver James Washington, who went onto the COVID-19 list on Saturday and will miss the team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
It appeared Washington may play a starting role, with starter Diontae Johnson on the COVID list for much of the week, but Johnson returned on Friday.
He, Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud are expected to start at receiver, with Cody White providing depth. The Steelers have not yet elevated a player from the practice squad to replace Washington.
Washington could very well have played his final game in a Steelers’ uniform. The fourth-year receiver is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and had reportedly requested a trade before the season, unhappy with his status as a backup in the Steelers’ offense.
Even with a season-ending injury to slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Washington hasn’t been able to break through much this season. He has been targeted 44 times, catching 24 for 285 yards and two touchdowns, all the lowest since his rookie season. Johnson, Claypool, McCloud, running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth all have more targets than Washington on the season.
Without Washington available against the Ravens, Cody White will become the Steelers’ top backup outside receiver. The team did not immediately name a COVID-19 replacement for Washington, but has wide receivers Anthony Miller and Steven Sims on the practice squad if they wish to do so.
The Steelers must win against Baltimore and get help in two other games if they wish to continue their 2021 season.