PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers' top wide receiver Diontae Johnson hasn't caught more than five passes in a game since Kenny Pickett stepped in at halftime of Week 3. The team is now 11 weeks into the regular season, and still, Johnson has yet to catch a touchdown. But the reasoning remains that he isn't available.
Johnson showed clear frustration after Week 11's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which he caught four passes for 21 yards. Pickett, who completed 25 passes for 265 yards, said it was clear the Bengals' defense was trying to shut down the Steelers' top weapon.
"With the coverage they were playing, I felt like they weren't letting Diontae get singled up," Pickett said after the game. "That's frustrating when he's that good of a player, that talented, and they try and take him out of the game plan. There is some things, maybe move him around more and get him in different spots to try and get him the ball. You know, but when they're playing a two-high shell and they got a safety over the top, it's tough."
Now, Pickett is doubling down on that analysis, saying that throwing into double coverage isn't something he's looking to do.
"I don't really think it's a case of the timing thing," Pickett said. "If it's two-on-one, you can't force the ball, that's how bad things happen. The defense really dictates where I'm going to throw the football. If they're going two-on-one with Diontae, it's tough to get him the football."
While Johnson has shared his frustration, Pickett made it known he is not being unprofessional, and understands as much as the rest of the team that he's in a tough situation.
"He's a smart player," Pickett said. "We'll come off the field and he'll say 'they're over the top' or they're doubling him up. So he knows, and he's a great player and he wants to help us win. We'll get him in some spots to be successful."
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