Johnson wants to stay put: Receiver Diontae Johnson was all smiles on Tuesday as he stood in the locker room talking about working with the team's quarterbacks as the Steelers mandatory minicamp is under way.
He said he is already building a relationship with them, including one with Mitch Trubisky, the veteran who was signed this offseason.
"It's different," said Johnson about the changes at the quarterback position following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger this offseason. "Other than Mason (Rudolph) it's Chris (Oladokun), Kenny (Pickett) and Mitch. Getting to know those three, just seeing what they do different. Picking their brain.
"I am really picking Mitch's brain, trying to get that relationship with him. That is what is most exciting to me. Taking it a day at a time. When we are in practice, if a ball is coming my way, whatever play it is, just show that communication that we do have. I want to show it's going to continue to grow for everybody.
"We're cool friends right now. He is a cool dude. It's good."
Johnson is coming off a 2021 season where he set career-highs in receptions (107), yards (1,161) and touchdown receptions (8), but he is also entering the final year of his contract. Johnson was asked numerous times about the contract but was steadfast in his stance that the most important thing for him right now is to just keep on working while his agent takes care of the business side of things.
But the one thing he did stress, is that's he wants to remain in the black and gold.
"I am not really worried about that," said Johnson about the contract. "I can only control what I can control. I want to be here. I am going to keep working. My agent will do what he does. I am not trying to focus on that. I am not worried about it.
"I am just coming here doing what I am supposed to do. If a contract comes this year it comes, if it don't it don't.
"I am just ready to play football and be a Steeler.
"My time is going to come. I am going to be patient. If it comes this year, it's going to be a blessing."
Setting the record straight: If you walk away from an interview with Najee Harris and you aren't smiling, then it's your fault.
Because the second year running back definitely knows how to keep people laughing, whether it's joking with his teammates during the interview, teasing the reporters, or clarifying his weight, the smiles are plentiful.
Oh, yeah, and about that weight.
There has been a lot of talk on social media about Harris' weight in 2022 compared to 2021.
But it's really a non-issue.
Last year Harris was listed as being 232 pounds on the roster, something he clarified on Tuesday when he said he hasn't weighed that since college. Harris said he was 242 pounds last year, and right now is 244 pounds.
"You are always heavier now than you play in the season," said Harris. "As long as I can move with it, it's good. If it becomes an issue when I can't move around and I look sluggish. I feel good out there. That's all that matters."
Harris, who was voted the winner of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers Rookie of the Year and named to the 2022 Pro Bowl as a replacement, finished the 2021 regular season with 1,667 yards from scrimmage, which includes 1,200 yards rushing and 467 yards receiving. Harris, who led all rookies in yards from scrimmage, was second in the NFL among rookies with 10 touchdowns, which includes seven rushing and three receiving.
Harris set multiple Steelers' rookie records in 2021, including passing Franco Harris for most rushing yards in a single-season by a Steelers rookie with 1,200 yards. Franco Harris had 1,055 rushing yards in 1972.
He also set a rookie record for most yards from scrimmage in a single season, passing Le'Veon Bell who had 1,259 yards from scrimmage in 2013.
Harris had three 100-yard games in 2021 and became the first rookie running back in the NFL to register three or more 100-yard rushing games, and a 100-yard receiving game, in the same season since Washington's Roy Helu Jr. did so in 2011. He also became the first running back in Steelers' history and eighth in NFL history to register three or more 100-yard rushing games, and a 100-yard receiving game, in the same season since 1949.
Despite the success, he is constantly looking at ways to improve, spending time this offseason self-evaluating himself, and focusing more on the bad than the good.
"You want to put the good runs together, bad runs, good protections, bad protections," said Harris of what he looked at. "See what you can do better, work on. Take your film from last year and all the bad stuff and try to improve on it."
Harris was a workhorse for the offense, rarely getting a breather and never slowing down as the season went on. In actuality, he got stronger as the year progressed. A lot of it was because he knew a lot was on his shoulders carrying the ground game, and much of the offense, and he didn't mind it one bit.
"You have to understand this," said Harris. "No other offensive rookie was put in the position I was. No other had to come in and be the head honcho, the focal point of the team. A lot leaned on that person. I put my head up high. I knew it was going to be a long season. A lot learned on my shoulders. Any time they are going to give me the crown, I am going to run with it."
And then he added.
"I also know that people don't like to tackle late in the season so that worked in my advantage," said Harris.
But things might change a little in 2022. Yes, Harris will still be the focal point of the ground game, but he also will get a much-deserved breather.
"We are doing that a lot this year," said Harris. "I will not be on the field on certain plays just to take off shots, extra hits. I am not going to be on certain plays. But I do want to play a lot. It's about being smart. I understand where they are coming from."