Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Reports to OTAs
PITTSBURGH — Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson reported to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side for the team’s fourth on-field session of 2022 on Tuesday after skipping the first three practices of OTAs last week.
Johnson was far from the only Steelers veteran to have less than full participation in the first week, but his absence was notable, because Johnson is seeing a contract extension with the team this offseason.
By reporting to practice on Tuesday, it appears that Johnson is not going to withhold his presence from the squad entirely this offseason as part of a negotiating tactic. He declined to speak with the media on Tuesday and said he will speak next week.
The rest of Johnson’s teammates did not seem bothered by his absence when asked last week.
“I know Diontae. He’s grinding no matter where he is,” Fellow wide receiver Chase Claypool said Thursday. “I know a lot of people are looking into it, but I wouldn’t look into it too much, because he’s perfecting his craft and he’s going to come and ball out.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin also declined to make an issue about the absence of Johnson or any other Steelers player for the OTA sessions, which are voluntary and largely unpaid for the players.
“I focus my energy on those that are here,” Tomlin said. “That’s how I make it a productive day, particularly in the football environment that we’re in. We all know the nature of these workouts are voluntary. And so I’m doing a disservice to the men that made the commitment to be here if I have any other mentality.”
Johnson led the Steelers in receiving yards and touchdowns each of the last two seasons. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2021 with 107 receptions, 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns.
With Ray-Ray McCloud, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington all departing via free agency in the offseason, Johnson is now the most veteran member of a young Steelers receiving corps.
Chris Carter contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.