(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson is training down in Florida right now to get ready for the 2021 season, and he recently spoke with Missi Matthews of Steelers.com about the 2020 season and this upcoming year.
"I miss it every day, Johnson told Matthews about missing football. "I try to look for the things that I could have done better throughout the whole year because each year I'm learning something new, whether that's at my position or somewhere else on the field. I'm learning something new, trying to elevate my game anyway as possible. And I feel like I did that this year."
Johnson had a solid second-year campaign in 2020 with 88 receptions for a team-high 923 yards (10.5 average) and seven touchdowns. However, he had a case of the yips when it came to catching the ball. Johnson led the league in drops with 13 and was benched by Mike Tomlin in the first quarter against the Bills in Week 14 after two drops.
"Besides the drops or whatever, I still had a great year," Johnson said. "The plays I made, the teammates I was with this year that pushed me to play at the level that I was playing at. They just made me better every day. And that just made me go hard in the games and my work showed in the games. I just want to keep elevating my game this summer and come back stronger, faster, all that. Just to show Steeler Nation that I'm still Diontae Johnson."
Matthews followed by asking Johnson what got him through the rough patch that he went through last year in regards to the drops.
"It's really just mental stuff, just really getting into my head," Johnson responded. "Seeing those things on social media, people bashing your name about dropping the ball, but not knowing they're forgetting about what you did in the beginning of the season all up until that point. I'm not perfect, I'm never going to be perfect. The best of the best drop the ball, so you can't dwell on it. I just use that as fuel and I just locked in that following week."
Randy Fichtner didn't have his contract renewed following the 2020 season and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator a few weeks later. Johnson expects the offense to be creative with Canada as the new play-caller.
"I'm pretty sure he's gonna open the offense up (and) whatnot," Johnson said. "I'm sure we're still gonna run the same offense, but just add some different things in there I'm guessing. I'm sure we're gonna have a great offense with Ben coming back too, I'm looking forward to it. And I'm ready to go to work with Coach Canada. I take advantage of every opportunity I get out there with Ben and I'm looking forward to it this year as well."