Steelers notebook: Short-yardage back Terrell Watson upset with performance vs. Bengals
Terrell Watson knows he has one job.
“And I take it very personally,” the Steelers running back said Monday. “Very seriously.”
Watson had performed his duties quite well, too, this season. Until Sunday.
The Steelers’ short-yardage specialist, Watson was stopped on fourth-and-1 on the first play of the fourth quarter against Cincinnati. Officials initially credited Watson with a first down but overturned the call after the Bengals challenged the ruling.
“It kind of got to me a little bit,” Watson said. “But things happen.
“I’ve got to make it where you can’t challenge it and it’s (indisputable).”
That particular play wasn’t the only one in which the Steelers had issues in short-yardage, but it was the only one in which Watson can shoulder any of the blame. It was his only carry — the Steelers chose to have Le’Veon Bell on the field for two of their three third-and-1 snaps.
Bell’s lone carry in that situation lost 4 yards. On the other two occasions, the Steelers threw a long pass to Antonio Brown. Both were incomplete.
The 0-for-4 performance on third- or fourth-and-1s ruined what had been a 4-for-5 start to the season on such occasions. And it was the first time on four such plays in which Watson was not successful.
“I have to move my feet more,” Watson said. “Gotta get it. Gotta do my job, you know? Disappointed, yeah. But it just lights a fire under me, and I’m not going to be denied. Get back to work this week and do it all over again.”
Watson’s other role on the team is as kickoff returner. He is averaging 20.2 yards on five returns this season.
McDonald injured, involved
A day after he did not play in the second half because of a knee injury, tight end Vance McDonald was moving without a limp and did not have a wrap or bandage on either of his knees.
Though he declined to speculate on his status for Sunday night’s game in Detroit — he referred inquires to coach Mike Tomlin — McDonald acknowledged feeling gratified he’s become an increasing part of the offense.
He had three catches over the past two games, including receptions for 26 and 28 yards, respectively. McDonald’s usage as a blocker also increased as the Steelers turned to more two-tight end sets.
“The last few weeks, our focus has been getting the run game going,” McDonald said. “It opens it up a lot of things. When you get defensive guys out of position playing run-heavy and change the way they are entering the game, it’s huge for the offenses.”
AB not included
Antonio Brown was a bystander during rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hide-and-seek touchdown celebration with Le’Veon Bell. Brown watched as Smith-Schuster covered his eyes, and Bell hid behind the goal post.
“He was the parent on that one,” Smith-Schuster said, laughing. “He was making sure we were playing safe.”
Bell and Smith-Schuster concocted the celebration about 10 minutes before kickoff, which explains why Brown wasn’t included.
“He just didn’t know at the moment,” Smith-Schuster said.
Steelers reserve offensive tackle and LSU alumnus Jerald Hawkins made Ole Miss alums Mike Hilton and Lavon Hooks put on LSU shirts and pose for a photo in the Steelers’ locker room Monday, possibly payment a bet for this past Saturday’s game between the two schools.
LSU won at Ole Miss, 40-24. Hilton was a cornerback for the Rebels from 2012-15, and Hooks was a defensive tackle there in 2013-14. Hawkins was at LSU from 2012-15, going 2-2 against SEC West rival Ole Miss.