James Washington
JuJu Smith-Schuster believes that James Washington is going to have a breakout season (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to find a way to replace Antoino Brown and Le’Veon Bell this year. The Steelers found a way to do the latter with James Conner. Now Pittsburgh has to find a replacement for Brown. JuJu Smith-Schuster has one player in mind. He thinks James Washington is in for a breakout season.

“You talk about a young dude who’s up and coming, it’s going to be James Washington,” Smith Schuster told ESPN, via NFL.com. “A guy from Oklahoma State, came to the Steelers his rookie year, started off slow but figured it out and got the ropes down.

“This past summer workouts that we had, he’s been doing amazing, a great job. I’m super excited to see how he does this year. He’s our guy that’s going to sneak up on everybody.”

Washington played just 526 snaps as a rookie third round pick from Oklahoma State. Now in year-two, Washington will or should have a bigger opportunity in front of him. Ryan Switzer is only the real proven receiver on the roster. All I know is he needs to do better than 16 catches on 38 targets for 217 yards and a touchdown.

For the record, I’m not buying this one. I was all in on James Conner having a big year for the Steelers. However, I’m not a James Washington fan. Never have been. If you read some of my pre-draft notes on Washington, then you know that I’m not surprised by Washington’s early career struggles. He is a bad route runner. The good news is Pittsburgh drafting him and they have a very good resume developing young receivers. Finding a second reliable target outside of JuJu could be the biggest factor whether the Steelers win the AFC North.