Rookie James Washington earns bigger role, 1st touchdown in Game 2 for Steelers |

Rookie James Washington earns bigger role, 1st touchdown in Game 2 for Steelers

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver James Washington celebrates his first NFL touchdown against the Chiefs second quarter Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Heinz Field.

In the seven days between his NFL debut and his first regular-season home game, James Washington went from an afterthought in the gameplan to a receiver who played 66 offensive snaps.

The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie also had his first NFL touchdown on his first (official) NFL touch.

“It was a great feeling – like every level, your first touchdown in high school and in college and now in the pros,” Washington said of his 14-yard score in the final minute before halftime Sunday, a score that allowed the Steelers to pull back even with the Kansas City Chiefs after falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter.

“It was a great moment, just to see the faces of my teammates, especially tying it up and seeing how enthused they were. It was like everyone souls have been revived.”

That the Steelers would ultimately lose, 42-37, didn’t diminish Washington’s moment or his game. A second-round pick who had an abdominal injury late in training camp, Washington had played only 13 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps in the season opener Sept. 9 at Cleveland.

Against the Chiefs, though, Washington earned his first NFL start – and he was thrown to on a “go” route on the first play. It fell incomplete, and Washington would have to wait for his first “official” NFL catch, too.

He caught passes on consecutive snaps midway through the first quarter – but each was nullified by penalty (one on each team). It wasn’t until after two more incompletions that Washington’s touchdown came.

“I felt comfortable out there,” Washington said, contrasting it to the Browns game. “Ben did a great job communicating with me and I did the same with him, and the other receivers were always just making sure we were all on the same page.”

After catching 74 passes for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for Oklahoma State, Washington won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best wide receiver.

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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