Updated: Jun 17
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson is by far the Steelers' best route-runner and he led the team in targets last season with 144, but he just couldn't catch the ball in 2020, leading the league in drops with 16.
It was a focus issue with Johnson, as he couldn't haul in the easy ones. He had a bad habit of running with the ball before securing the catch. According to Sports Info Solutions, 14 of Johnson's drops were within five yards of the line of scrimmage. To Johnson's credit, he did improve when it came to catching the ball late in the year after being benched by Mike Tomlin for most of the first half against the Bills in Week 14 after two drops.
It wasn't only Johnson who struggled to catch the ball, however, as the Steelers overall led the league in drops with 43, according to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“Drops are part of the game,” Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard told the media today before their second mandatory minicamp practice. “Obviously, we had too many balls on the ground. It’s been discussed. Our group understands. They know we have to do a better job of not putting the ball on the ground. We work on it every day. We are going to be cognizant of limiting our drops going forward during the season.”
As for Johnson, Hilliard expects him to grow from his mishaps last year when it comes to dropped passes.
“It’s part of maturity and growth,” Hilliard said. “We know our guys are not out there trying to play poorly. Diontae is no different. He handled it like a pro. He continues to work diligently. We’re going to see, hopefully, another giant step for him. He’s going to be a big part of what we do.”