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More options coming their way

One of the hottest topics this offseason, and during the Steelers OTAs, has been how the offense is going to change under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

On Tuesday, Ben Roethlisberger said he expects the team to throw some different schemes at people and 'see what works.'

For the receivers, the new offense won't have a major impact on the routes they run, other than giving them more options, something they welcome.

"I don't think it affects us too much," said receiver James Washington following Wednesday's OTA session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. "I think it gives us more options to be in different positions and get different matchups."

One of the biggest adjustments could come from a pre-snap perspective, but with Canada moving from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator this offseason, they already saw a little bit of that last year.

"Formations are a little different, but I think it will help us just because it will help us line up in different positions and move people around pre-snap and get the matchups we want against certain guys," said Washington. "It's a little different formation-wise just because we are not used to some of the terminology that is being said now. Throughout OTAs we are learning. As far as the meetings, coaches have been great with relaying stuff to us, getting us the information we need to get lined up."

Canada is taking a slow and steady approach to introducing the offense and terminology during OTAs, not throwing information at the players too fast and making sure if there are questions, he is quick with the answers.

"He knows everything is new to us, so he is taking us through it kind of slow, getting us acclimated with it all," said Washington. "As far as if you have a question, the door is open. He is always willing to help you out and make sure we are all on the same page and can play fast and are ready to go when that first game gets here."

Washington, who at all of 25 years old is the oldest of the Steelers receivers despite having one less year of experience than JuJu Smith-Schuster, said he does take the role of being one of the 'older guys' to heart and is always there for his teammates.

"I put more responsibility on myself to help guys learn," said Washington, who admitted he hasn't thought about entering the final year of his contract yet. "The younger guys, we don't have too many younger guys now, but just being there for them, anything they might need. Even if they need a study partner for plays, I am there. Anything I can do to help."

The Steelers have a strong group of receivers with Washington, Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud all back from 2020, all of them weapons for Roethlisberger. But with a focus on improving the running game in 2021, including drafting Najee Harris in the first round, it could mean a more balanced offense and less balls to catch. Washington said that isn't a problem.

"As a group we just want to win," said Washington. "If we can get three or four catches cool, but at the end of the day if we can get the win, we will take that any day."

And if that means receivers playing in different spots, then so be it. Earlier this offseason Smith-Schuster said, 'You'll definitely see me playing outside more.' The outside spot is somewhere Washington, Johnson and Claypool have played, but they are open to whatever works for the team and everyone has the ability to move into the slot if Smith-Schuster is used outside at times.

"That is what I like about this team," said Washington. "Receivers can play any position. You're not just a Z, or an inside or outside guy. You may play that primarily, but you're never just that receiver. You can always move around. I think we're pretty fluid with moving around and keeping guys out there."

The Steelers participate in day 5 of the 2021 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex