While some things are different, some things remained the same as the Pittsburgh Steelers began their second week of training camp. The Steelers held a padded practice Monday for the first time since setting up shop at Saint Vincent College last week. But similar to last week, the Steelers continue to hold practice without the on-field presence of Diontae Johnson, who has continued his “hold in” after not receiving a longterm deal this offseason.
It should be noted that Johnson did more on Monday than he did during previous camp practices. Along with doing individual work, Johnson caught passes from quarterbacks with staffers serving as defensive backs (h/t Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review). Nevertheless, Johnson continues to not participate in team drills, something that does not appear to be changing anytime soon.
“We’ll see what tomorrow holds,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Johnson’s status for Tuesday’s practice, via Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan.
Johnson has made it clear that he wants a new contract. He did not attend the first week of OTAs but showed up for the second week. He participated in the team’s mandatory minicamp and he arrived on time for training camp. Shortly after arriving to camp, Johnson fielded questions about his contract status as well as his future with the Steelers.
“I mean, I want to be here,” Johnson told reporters. “I wanna be here long term. That’s up to them. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”
Johnson is coming off a 2021 season that saw him earn Pro Bowl honors for the first time. His success last year surely led to an uptick in his current project market value, which according to Spotrac is $86 million over four years for an annual average of $21.5 million. Johnson — who is entering the final year of his rookie contract — is slated to receive a base salary of $2.79 million for the 2022 season.
The clock is ticking on Johnson to receive a new deal, as the Steelers don’t typically handle contracts once the regular season has started. With Johnson not participating in team drills, and with Chase Claypool nursing a shoulder injury, rookie wideouts George Pickens and Calvin Austin III have made the most of their increased opportunities. Claypool recently declared that Pickens is going to be the NFL’s top rookie receivers this season.
Pickens, a second-round pick out of Georgia, took Claypool’s comments in stride as he continues to work through his first NFL training camp.
“I hadn’t really heard any teammates say anything,” Pickens told the team’s website. “They just keep telling me to do what I am doing. I feel like my first week went good.
“I just keep working. That is what I said at the combine too. I probably say that every interview. I just keep working.”