5 Steelers backups that will play the most snaps during 2021
By Andrew Falce
Steelers James Washington
Some wouldn’t consider James Washington a backup given the success he has had on the field and the talent he possesses. The issue is, despite his solid play he is the clear fourth option at receiver on a depth chart full of talent. With Chase Claypool likely to take on the Z position at receiver from the start this year, Washington will likely see his overall snaps decline from the 44 percent benchmark he hit last season.
That said, Washington will still ultimately see the field in some capacity in 2021. He has the talent to be a starter on most teams and the dependability that Ben Roethlisberger likes in a target. As well, Canada’s new system will likely focus on using all four of the Steelers receivers in some capacity. While his overall playtime may go down slightly, he should still garner quite a few snaps even as a backup.
This is in no way a knock on Washington either. The former second-round pick hasn’t become a perennial starter, but he has become a solid, physical deep option that the team can rely on if he is needed. While the Steelers will build their passing game around their top three options, Washington will still see his share of targets. His play may be down from last season, but of all the backups on the team, he should see the most snaps.
The Steelers have a strong history of playing backups both as rotational pieces and as the proverbial next-man-up options in case of injury. With the roster as it is, these five backups figure to play the most in 2021. A good backup can be the difference between a win and a loss, so expect these five players to impact the final outcome of the Steelers 2021 season.