Updated 19 minutes ago
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made strong remarks Tuesday to receiver James James, whose steep drop over Sunday was the last miscalculation in an unproductive rookie season.
Washington left his feet and attempted a diving pass in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Roethlisberger criticized Washington, not only for dropping the ball, but for leaving his feet while he could have continued to run.
"He has to do it," said Roethlisberger. "I just think he did not trust his hands. For some reason, he jumps / dove. I'm not really sure what he was doing. We watch it (on the film), and the coach went very well yesterday.
"We took a long look at the subject. James has to go through there, and it's a touchdown. "
The game was held second and eighth of the Steelers 41 while there was 4:40 left to do in the third quarter of the series, after the Broncos had created the 17-17 tie. Running on the right hand line, Washington had his hand on the ball but dropped it at Broncos Stadium 22.
After another incomplete pass to Antonio Brown, the Steelers responded.
Of the 10 players targeted Sunday, Washington was the only player to have no grip. He was 0 for 3 on the throws launched. For the season, Washington has taken just eight out of 25 targets, a 32% rate that is the lowest among NFL receivers with at least 11 targets, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Yes, he's a beginner, but you will not be here if you do not want to make those games for us," said Roethlisberger.
The lack of production from the second-round selection resulted in a reduction in playing time. After playing in 86 and 79 percent of the offensive catches against Baltimore and Carolina, respectively, Washington was on the field for 54 percent of the catches against Jacksonville , and this number was reduced to 23% against Denver.
Washington was on the field for the last offensive offensive when Roethlisberger threw an interception on the tackler before Broncos, Shelby Harris.
"He must have confidence in himself," said Roethlisberger. "When you trust yourself, you use your hands and you catch the ball. I felt like when he jumped and dive, no matter what you want to call it, it showed a lack of self-confidence and in his hands.
Roethlisberger still believes Washington can produce for the Steelers in the last five weeks of the season. US coach Mike Tomlin, however, was not hired Tuesday when asked if Washington would be on the list this Sunday for the Steelers vs. San Diego game.
"I trust him," Roethlisberger said. "I would not have thrown it to him if I had not done it."
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Joe Rutter is an editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.