Steelers vs Eagles Film Review: Wesley Johnson

For the second game in a row, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie offensive lineman Wesley Johnson logged significant time at center, and once again, he acquitted himself well, played above the line, and undoubtedly inspired another cliché or two in the process.

It’s not that Johnson is vying for a starting job or anything of that nature, but he has performed when called upon recently, and presumably has already secured a spot for himself on the roster, or at least has come close.

He even showed some improvement in areas of weakness from the previous week, which is always a positive sign from a young player. Below are a few examples of the progress that he has made since he has been tied down in the interior of the offensive line rather than playing at tackle.

Johnson entered the game with the rest of the second-team offense in the waning seconds of the third quarter, taking over at the 45-yard line with 17 seconds in the quarter remaining. He made his first snap count on a deep ball targeting Martavis Bryant.

Although he got jolted back a bit off the snap with a good punch from the nose tackle, Johnson settled down and the line as a whole gave Bruce Gradkowski a nice pocket to work out of.

A few plays later, he was forced to muster his strength in order to hold off the nose tackle in the running game. The play seems designed to go up the A gap off the center’s left shoulder, but Le’Veon Bell decided to cut it off right tackle, even though the hole seemed to be there. Still, the play gained five yards, but I don’t know that it wouldn’t have been more beneficial to hit the first hole.

Last game, one of the lowlights in Johnson’s performance was a missed cut block downfield on a screen. He made sure to hit his target against the Eagles, taking out the linebacker on a screen pass to LeGarrette Blount that gained seven yards.

A few plays later on the same drive, Johnson had a bit of trouble staying in front of the right defensive end on a carry by Blount off right tackle. His man made the tackle on Blount as he was already going down following a six-yard gain on second and two.

Whether or not Cody Wallace plays tonight should determine if Johnson gets a chance to attest to his versatility. The Steelers released their only other true center candidate on Tuesday, and have not given Chris Hubbard any work there.

It would be a slight disappointment if Johnson doesn’t get an opportunity to play other positions, since his primary asset is his five-position versatility. That is a skill that can be honed over time, however; there would be nothing wrong with keeping him as an interior lineman as a rookie as he improves his strength. In time, he could become the sixth lineman, as Kelvin Beachum was.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • treeher

    Lookin’ good, Wes.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I do hope we get to see him play some other position than center tonight. He played a lot of games in college at tackle and would seem to need some reps at other positions. I’m not sure if he has been practicing at other positions or not.

  • ApexSteel

    Nice moves by Blount. Wes looked good too though.

  • Steelers12328882

    I disagree about the screen. If he just kept running he should’ve been able to outrun the DT and then he had Simmons out front blocking for him. That’s Alejandro Villanueva that caught him from behind.

  • steeltown

    Very nice. He moves really well, look how fast he got to the 2nd level with that cut block in the 3rd gif

  • Steelers12328882

    I really like these reviews on players that are on the bubble. Would love to see Blanchflower, DHB, JB, HoJO and I suppose Chris Carter.

  • Mark_K

    I’d love to see the breakdown on how Hubbard did in this game also. Still hard to see them keeping Johnson and Whimper both on the active roster over Hubbard

  • cencalsteeler

    Wes Johnson looks like a natural. He seems to have great movement and instinct. Like Marczi stated, his play is improving week to week. I never really had doubt with this kid, based solely on the premise he was hand picked by Munchak.
    On the screen to Blount, I’m not sure what impressed me more. His down field block, or the second block he attempted by getting back up and lunging for one more.

  • AzheDraven

    Im not sure why but I have a feeling he is going to be replacing Ramon Foster in a couple of years