Loss Of Will Johnson Could Result In More 12 Personnel Groupings Against Titans

The season is not getting off to a good start for Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Will Johnson, who will more than likely sit out the Sunday season opener at Heinz Field against the Tennessee Titans with a hamstring injury that he suffered in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.

With Will Johnson likely to be sidelined, the Steelers might very well use a fullback by committee against the Titans if they even use one at all.

The Steelers only have three healthy tight ends on their roster heading in the season opener and it is possible that we could see all three, David Paulson, David Johnson and Michael Palmer, receive a few snaps at fullback Sunday if indeed Will Johnson winds up being out.

Of the three, David Johnson would figure to get the lion’s share of the work at fullback, but you have to keep in mind that he only played a total of 21 snaps during the preseason following his removal from the PUP list prior to the third preseason game.

While Paulson is a better blocker on the move than he is on the end of the line, he is nowhere close to being as good of a lead blocker as Will Johnson currently is. The same goes for Palmer, who the Steelers acquired off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks during training camp after Matt Spaeth suffered a Lisfranc injury.

The Steelers are expected to use their 21 personnel grouping a lot more this season as Will Johnson is a legitimate threat out of the backfield as a receiver. With him being all but ruled out for Sunday at this point, offensive coordinator Todd Haley might decide to use more 12 personnel groupings on early downs against the Titans instead.

We will be charting each and every game once again this year and will monitor the personnel groupings very close on Sunday to see who is used where against the Titans.

  • steeltown

    I hate saying things after the fact, but why was Will Johnson even playing in the final preseason game? With D.Johnson getting back on the field after a long layoff and Palmer and McCoy trying to get as many reps as possible to earn a roster spot, shouldn’t they have played the entire game alternating TE and FB?

    Just saying.. but I guess its a moot point after the fact

  • Toddy Bravo

    Please pardon my ignorance, but what’s the difference between “21 personnel” and “12 personnel” groupings? Judging from the context, I assume 21 just means lining the RB up as a receiver, or is there more to it?

  • cencalsteeler

    Alex wrote a nice article today explaining everything in detail.

  • cencalsteeler

    Put Beachum in at fullback, he’ll open some holes!

  • kakello34

    John Conner was released by the Bengals last week. I was watching him on hard knocks and he looked like a beast when blocking.

  • SteelersDepot

    first number is total running backs/fullbacks and second number is total amount of tight ends.

  • Mike.H

    Paulson listed as 6’4″ 254? but he seems smaller than Urlacher or others who are listed with the same weight class. May be I’m wrong. Paulson has soft hands which is a plus.

  • Mike.H

    quite a nice find as a 7th rounder, Mr. Beachum.

  • Busforever

    Yeah, John Conner receives very little love, and that’s very surprising. He is a fan favorite after 2 appearances on Hard Knocks, but above all he was really impressive as a blocking FB. I think he was just in the bad place in the bad time.

  • sean mcmartin

    If The Steelers can get him on the cheap they will. Hamstring injuries seem to linger with the players