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Diontae Johnson misses Week 1 Thursday practice with foot injury

The Steelers had a key pass-catcher missing from practice on Thursday. We break down what Diontae Johnson’s absence means.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson makes a reception against Baltimore Ravens linebacker L.J. Fort on December 29, 2019, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers took the field on Thursday for their first practice of Week 1, and wide receiver Diontae Johnson sat it out. He was listed as a DNP on the official injury report due to a foot issue.

The Steelers travel to face the New York Giants in Week 1 on Monday Night Football. That means this was their first practice of the week, so we still have two more practice days to get a better handle on this. If Johnson is upgraded to limited on Friday, that bodes well. If he is a DNP a second straight day, it becomes particularly concerning.

Last season, Johnson led the Steelers in receptions (59) and touchdowns (5), and was second in receiving yards (680) to James Washington (735). JuJu Smith-Schuster likely would have led in all three categories, but he missed four games due to injury.

The Steelers spent a second round pick on wide receiver Chase Claypool in the 2020 NFL Draft and welcome back Ben Roethlisberger from a 2019 elbow injury that cost him most of the season. Johnson is expected to start opposite Smith-Schuster, so if he’s absent, Washington likely moves into the starting lineup and Claypool sees a boost in snaps.

Smith-Schuster and Johnson are both strong starts this weekend against the Giants. If Johnson does not play, Washington is a decent flex option until we see where Claypool is on the depth chart.