For rookie tight end Darnell Washington, the opportunities to showcase his offensive abilities this season have been limited.
Washington has only been targeted seven times in 11 games, yielding five receptions for 41 yards. Nevertheless, he has made the most of the few targets he has been given, averaging more than eight yards per reception. Even with the tiny sample size, there might be more to explore.
If there is any hope for Washington in the Steelers' new offense, he should look no further than his teammate Pat Freiermuth. In their Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Freiermuth set career highs in receptions and receiving yards in a game while receiving the most targets of any player on offense.
This might be a sign that the new scheme, designed by quarterback coach Mike Sullivan and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner, will heavily utilize tight ends—something Washington is quite accustomed to. In 2022 with the Georgia Bulldogs, he and All-American tight end Brock Bowers combined for 1,396 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Washington played an integral role that season in helping expand the offense with his unique athletic abilities.
In the upcoming weeks, one should expect Washington to contribute more offensively. With the goal of scoring at a higher rate, using Washington could be key to helping them expand their options, making them a more dangerous team to play against.