PITTSBURGH -- Diontae Johnson only had six quarters to prove himself in front of Ben Roethlisberger in 2019.
The third-round pick was the Steelers' runner-up in receiving yards (680) but spent 14 and a half games of his first NFL season catching passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.
"Honestly, me and Ben started talking towards the end of the season," Johnson said in a conference call with local Steelers media. "I had to come in and prove to everybody that I can, that I'm not just a bust or whatever. But as the season went on I started contributing, making plays. And he started seeing me make plays and he started interacting with me more, talking with me more. Just building that trust with one another.
"I talk to him almost every day now. That's my guy. We got big things to do this year. We're trying to win the Super Bowl together."
59 receptions, 680 yards, five touchdowns, and a second-team All-Pro punt returner selection later, that trust has been built.
Still, Johnson isn't finished working (of course). Entering the second year of his NFL career, Johnson is looking to build off the success he found in 2019.
"I want to work on catching the ball, having strong hands," he said. "Work on getting my routes better, tuned up. I got plenty of stuff to work on so I don't want to just pick those two. I want to work on my game all around."
He's continuing to work on upgrading his play by working with his returning quarterback. Johnson said he and Roethlisberger have been spending time this offseason training. Though he hasn't been the receiver in the spotlight - seemingly falling behind tabloids of JuJu Smith-Schuster and 2020 second-round pick Chase Claypool - Johnson isn't concerned about anything but his talking on the field.
"It's been like that since I was at college at Toledo," said Johnson. "Everybody don't really know me like that or whatnot. I just got to keep doing what I'm doing, keep working until the respect me. That stuff don't phase me. Not everybody always got a story, they don't really know me and how I work and whatnot so they can say whatever they want, I'm still going to continue to be me and help the Steelers win."
The one person who has been paying plenty of attention to Johnson is Roethlisberger. For a second-year wide receiver, that's all the recognition you need before the season.
Johnson knows this.
Instead of focusing on headlines, he's preparing for a full season with his future Hall of Fame quarterback. And he's fairly excited about it.
"It's crazy, I mean it's Big Ben, he's great," Johnson said with a laugh. "Just being able to work out with him this offseason has been good. Trying to get the timing down, get a feel for what he likes and what he doesn't like, and how he likes to throw the ball on a certain play, certain routes are like. Just trying to pick his brain.
"I might go back up there again this week and workout with him again. Like I said, just getting that timing down, get a bond with each other so we can build that trust."
Heading into year, Johnson has big plans for himself and his team. Plans he hopes brings the Steelers further than a return to the playuof
"The ultimate goal is to win a championship," Johnson said. "I'd say my goal to at least have 1,000 yards and Pro Bowl. The number one goal is a Pro Bowl. And All-Pro punt returner."