PITTSBURGH (AP) — The ball came floating down and James Washington appeared out of position. The back of the end zone was behind him. Green Bay defensive back Demetri Goodson was in front of him. The window Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs had to fit the ball to the rookie wide receiver didn’t really exist.
So Washington created one.
The pass slightly underthrown http://www.officialpenguinsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-justin-schultz-jersey , Washington reached over Goodson and plucked it out of the air for a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The second-round pick did it again in the fourth period, outmuscling Packers cornerback Herb Waters for a 22-yard score to help Pittsburgh save a little bit of face in an otherwise drab preseason loss.
While some of Washington’s teammates erupted on the sideline after each acrobatic grab, one of them did not.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me at all, I had seen it for four years,” said rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph, who set records throwing the ball all over the field to Washington during their standout college careers at Oklahoma State. “All these guys kind of ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at it but … I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can do.”
Washington hopes to take another step forward Saturday when he is expected to get some reps with the first team as the Steelers host Tennessee. The 22-year-old understands it will take time for him to develop a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger after spending so many years catching passes from Rudolph. Washington has tried to absorb as much as he can since the Steelers took him with the 60th overall pick in the draft. His route running remains a work in progress. His grasp of the offense remains in its infancy. Yet the signs he’s starting to get it are there. Now it’s time to show Roethlisberger he can do it when it counts.
“With Ben, you have to know the defense,” Washington said. “You have to be watching while running your routes. With me and Mason you know, we’re taught, ‘Ok the ball is supposed to go here, it’s supposed to go here.’ With Ben, he’s a Hall of Famer. He knows spots where he can sneak it in and throw you a back shoulder. You have to be ready with him.”
And defenses might be wise to be ready for Washington, who figures to be in the third wide receiver slot behind All-Pro Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster when the AFC North champions open the 2018 season in Cleveland on Sept. 9.
“He’s raw, but the kid can catch Youth Jaden Schwartz Jersey ,” veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “He has a range that only a few people I’ve seen have. You throw it up, he’s got a great vertical, but it’s his ability to go get the ball that’s amazing.”
Having a frame Rudolph likened to a “bowling ball” helps. Washington is a thick 215 pounds, making it difficult for defensive backs to nudge him off his stride. It gets even harder when Washington unleashes his 39-inch vertical leap. The proof came during training camp at Saint Vincent College, when Washington found himself lining up across from two-time Pro Bowl defensive back Joe Haden.
Haden normally prefers to work against the starters during camp but couldn’t turn down a chance to face off against Washington.
“Once I see him making plays on other guys, it’s like ‘Let me see what you can do,'” Haden said. “In Latrobe he got me in the end zone. Jumped up and got his hands on the ball the whole time and I couldn’t get it. So he’s just making really good plays. I was like, ‘If you can make that on me, I think you’re going to be good.'”
Asked if Washington chirped at him after the grab, Haden just laughed.
“No, he never said a thing,” Haden said. “I’ve been around a lot of rookies that don’t act like that and aren’t as good (as he is).”
Talking has never really been Washington’s thing. Consider it a byproduct of having to play with older kids while growing up in Texas. At the park across the street from his parent’s house, Washington would find himself running around with cousins five or six years his senior. The only way to gain respect was to go out and earn it.
“I was always I guess pushed to an extent where I had to go hard,” Washington said.
He plays with an intensity that helped him win the Biletnikoff Award last year as the top wide receiver in college football. His quiet demeanor fits in well in a wide receiver’s room that includes the cerebral Heyward-Bey Mattias Janmark Jersey , the relentless Brown, and the ebullient Smith-Schuster. Washington is only too happy to be a sponge, absorbing what he can while proving he belongs.
“I think they’ve accepted my role and what I do,” Washington said. “We joke around every once in a while. Like I told him: Don’t expect me to be the guy yelling, just do my job.”
NOTES: The Steelers signed inside linebacker Vince Williams to a four-year contract on Thursday that will run through the 2021 season. Williams, a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, finished with a career-high eight sacks in 2017. … Pittsburgh also signed Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell to a five-year deal that runs through 2022. … Coach Mike Tomlin said all healthy starters will see action against the Titans, though Brown, safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker T.J. Watt’s status won’t be certain until game time.
Colorado had speed and youth. Nashville brought experience and know-how.
It was plain to see which won out – this time.
Mattias Ekholm ignited the offense early with the first goal by a Nashville defenseman in the series, Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots and the top-seeded Predators advanced to the second round with a 5-0 victory over the Avalanche in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Austin Watson , Filip Forsberg , Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Predators move on to face Winnipeg. They were 3-1-1 against the Jets in the regular season.
”I’m very impressed the way (the Avalanche) played. They played very modern hockey, with a lot of speed,” said Rinne Jesper Bratt Jersey Kids , who notched his fourth career postseason shutout as the Predators won the series 4-2. ”Great game. Great team effort. We didn’t give them any life.”
Nashville removed any sort of drama with two goals in the opening period and two more in the second to hush the capacity crowd. That’s the sort of game plan the Predators envisioned.
”I think that was our best game from start to finish,” Watson said. ”That’s good for us going forward, to be able to take the last game of this series and carry that into how we want to play in the next one.”
Andrew Hammond ran out of magic in net, allowing five goals. The third-string goaltender nicknamed ”Hamburglar” had 44 saves during a Game 5 win in Nashville to extend the series. But he couldn’t turn back a formidable Nashville offense that won a second straight playoff contest in Denver. Before this, the Avalanche hadn’t lost two straight at the Pepsi Center since early December.
”It’s disappointing to us and I’m sure it’s disappointing to fans,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. ”It means a lot to us that they did give us a standing ovation at the end.”
Watson tormented Colorado with four goals and seven points in the series. In all, 11 of Nashville’s forwards had at least a point over six games.
The one thing missing was contributions from a blue line that tied a franchise record for goals during the regular season. The Predators `D’ was held scoreless until Ekholm’s slap shot at 7:20.
Forsberg scored 38 seconds into second to give Nashville a 3-0 lead and completely drain the energy out of the arena. Bonino added another to go with his two assists.
The closest Colorado came to scoring on Rinne was in the second period, when Nikita Zadorov sent in a shot, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference on Carl Soderberg.
”Every line that went out there took a lot of pride in playing good defense, even at the end with the game 5-0. We still protected the net,” Rinne said. ”Guys wanted to get me that shutout.”
It was quite a bounce-back season for Colorado, which boasts one of the youngest teams in the league. The Avalanche went from a 48-point team in 2016-17 to 95 points this season, earning the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. The Avs are the first NHL team to post that sort of turnaround from one full season to the next since Pittsburgh also jumped 47 points in 2005-06 (58) to `06-07 (105).
”There are a lot of positives for sure,” said Nathan MacKinnon Womens Jason Demers Jersey , who was held to one shot Sunday. ”Everybody thought we weren’t going to make it, that we were going to be the odd-team-out in the West. Obviously, it’s nice to prove some people wrong and have a good young team going forward.”
In the handshake line after the game, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette had some encouraging words for MacKinnon.
”He thought our team was up-and-coming, similar to their team,” MacKinnon recounted. ”Definitely, it’s a good team to be compared to.”
Colorado ran into a Predators squad that looked every bit like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago and won the Presidents’ Trophy this season. They’re clicking on all cylinders heading into the Winnipeg series.
”These guys have been flying around for six games, playing really fast hockey,” Forsberg said. ”We’ve been trying to play as fast as we can as well. If we can bring that speed into the next round that will be good.”
NOTES: The Predators improved to 6-6 all-time in a Game 6 situation. … F Colton Sissons had two assists. … RW Ryan Hartman was a scratch after being suspended for Game 5 for a hit on Soderberg. … D P.K. Subban had high praise for MacKinnon: ”My expectations for him as a player is to be a Hall of Famer by the end of his career.”
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