Mitchell Trubisky will have the Steelers' No. 1 wideout by his side when he makes his debut as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback Sunday against the Bengals. Diontae Johnson, who was limited at the start of the week with a shoulder injury, told reporters Friday that he will play Sunday after being a full participant during Pittsburgh's past two practices. Johnson sustained the injury during the Steelers' final preseason game.
Johnson is coming off a 2021 season that saw him earn Pro Bowl honors for the first time. The former third-round pick out of Toledo set career highs with 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns while helping the Steelers clinch a playoff berth for a second straight year. Johnson's success last season led to him signing a two-year, $36.71 million extension this summer that keeps him in Pittsburgh through the 2024 season.
An injury kept Johnson out of Pittsburgh's Week 3 loss to the Bengals last season. He caught nine of 14 targets for 95 yards in the Steelers' 41-10 loss in Cincinnati in Week 12. The Bengals, who swept the season series last year for the first time since 2009, have won three straight games against the Steelers dating back to the 2020 season. Before that, Pittsburgh had won 10 straight games in the rivalry dating back to 2015.
Johnson and third-year veteran Chase Claypool are the only mainstays from Pittsburgh's rebuilt receiving corps. The duo is now flanked by rookie George Pickens (who put on a show during training camp and the preseason), former Patriots All-Pro returner Gunner Olszewski, former Washington receiver/returner Steven Sims and former Ravens wideout Miles Boykin. Rookie fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III will re-enter the fray once he is able to return from an injury he sustained during camp.
The unit will look to make life easier for Trubisky, who is preparing to make his first regular season start in almost two years. Trubisky and the Steelers offense will face a stingy Bengals defense Sunday led by Trey Hendrickson, Logan Wilson and Jessie Bates III.