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Steelers WR Diontae Johnson is becoming Antonio Brown before our eyes

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Like it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers passing offense was never better than when wide receiver Antonio Brown was on the field. The relationship between Brown and the Steelers became untenable, and there was no way he could stay. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t the same minus Brown.

But on Sunday night, if you weren’t paying attention, you might have thought Brown was back on the field for Pittsburgh. With his drops behind him, Diontae Johnson is quickly morphing into this team’s No. 1 receiver.

I honestly thought Chase Claypool would be the guy this season. After leading the league in drops last season, I did not expect Johnson to do what he’s doing so far this season.

On Sunday night, Johnson was targeted 13 times, catching nine and only having one drop. This got him a modest 71 receiving yards, but it was less about the numbers and more about how he got them.

Johnson sets himself apart from Claypool and even JuJu Smith-Schuster pre-injury because he’s the only receiver on the team who understands route running well enough to create separation. This is true on short and intermediate routes as well as being the team’s best deep threat. Sound like anyone else you’ve heard of?

The Steelers selected Johnson with one of the draft picks they got from the Las Vegas Raiders when they traded Brown, so it only makes sense he would be the guy to take Brown’s spot. It might not matter as much this season, but the evolution of Johnson this season will be excellent to watch for the future.

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