Steelers FB Will Johnson Could Play An Even Bigger Role Now On Offense

Now that it looks like Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth will be lost for a while with a Lisfranc injury, the tight end position really got a lot thinner than it already was. There\’s still some hope in my eyes, however.

I wrote recently about how I expect offensive coordinator Todd Haley to use more two tight end or one tight end and one fullback personnel groupings this season and I still believe that will happen even with the loss of Spaeth. The key player, however, to pulling this off effectively without tipping a run or pass play, might very well be fullback Will Johnson.

Johnson is a hell of a receiver and that was evidenced last season. What we don\’t know about Johnson, however, is just how good he is an inline tight end. Johnson reportedly worked some at the position over the course of the offseason, so it will be interesting to watch Saturday night against the New York Giants whether or not he is worked there during the game.

Sure, David Paulson still remains the primary tight end until Heath Miller returns, but if Johnson can be just as effective on the line as he is in the backfield as a fullback, it will allow Haley to keep offenses guessing, because he will have a lot of options with the 21 personnel grouping on the field.

I really think that Johnson could be in for a monster year if used properly and I don\’t think 30 receptions is out of the question for him along with 600 or so snaps worth of playing time. Keep a close eye on him throughout the preseason and how he is used.

  • James Kling

    I’m actually excited about seeing what Paulson and Johnson can do. Spaeth is a known commodity, but the young guys could have some real upside catching the ball over the middle. If they can block decently, I don’t think losing Spaeth is a big deal.

  • James Kling

    BTW, Johnson is smaller, but more athletic. Spaeth’s best receiving year as a Steeler? 17-136. Johnson hauled in 15-137 last year, and I think he can build on that.

  • Hutch

    James Kling, younger is always better. Steelers are finally into the rebuild and a lot of these injuries have sped this process up. Go Steelers and I can’t wait to see the young guys… remember when we won? We won with a young Big Ben, a young TP, a young Heath Miller……

  • Danny Delouize

    a known commodity,,lol…thats a nice way of putting it…The guy was pretty much useless his first go-around with the steelers…I was hoping he would have improved enough to become a decent red-zone option..

  • Douglas Andrews

    Good article and great point about the strategy with using W Johnson on the line of scrimmage. It would give Defense something to think about as he does have nice hands for a FB but hopefully he can show that he’s just as good at blocking. If so maybe he can help out until Heath is ready to go. If there is anything good about this injury it’s the fact that it happened early enough for the Steelers to tinker with a few things before they have to go out and bring in a veteran or look to the guys they recently signed. Hope Will pans out I’d like to see him become more of a pass catcher in our offense this season.