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83-Steelers-43
12-04-2006, 06:08 AM
Steelers' Washington proves worthwhile

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 4, 2006


Steelers flanker Nate Washington went from nobody to somebody almost overnight.
It didn't matter that Washington, the pride of Tiffin University, caught a grand total of one pass in his first NFL season (coming against Denver in last year's AFC championship game), or that his end-zone breakup of a potential interception in the same game was likened to splitting an atom.

All that mattered was that Washington -- who not only wasn't drafted out of the tiny Division II school in Ohio not far from Ben Roethlisberger's hometown, but wasn't even expected to make the Steelers' final roster -- was a member of the Super Bowl XL champions, and as such was expected to perform like a champion in his second season.

He didn't, of course. And since Washington has struggled with consistency and a periodic case of the dropsies, he's had difficulty winning over Steelers fans and the local media, although his teammates remain steadfast in their support of the kid who's loaded with talent and will go as far as his confidence will take him.

Washington's confidence received a huge shot in the arm Sunday when he made his first NFL start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field.

He caught three passes for 78 yards, made a 36-yard grab on the final play of the third quarter to set up a buffer touchdown in the Steelers 20-3 win, and reminded an impatient public exactly why, despite his periodic ups and downs, he's worth the wait.

"It's definitely a big step up. I have a lot bigger role than usual," said Washington, who normally comes off the bench but was promoted to the starting lineup when Hines Ward suffered a knee injury against Baltimore. "I have to go out there and play with the confidence that I'm supposed to be here."

After playing for the Super Bowl XL champion, Washington, like some of his more famous teammates, was treated like a celebrity.

In his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, he was honored with "Nate Washington Day,"' and the mayor presented him with a key to the city.

Never had a player received so much credit for accomplishing so little on the field.

Coming into this season, Washington hadn't proven a thing. At times, the best thing said about Washington's performance was that he was impersonating an NFL receiver.

He either didn't fight hard enough to get off the line, failed to run a precise route, or simply dropped the ball.

"This is a profession where you're paid to do a job. That's what they expect of you," Washington said.

Running back Willie Parker can relate. An undrafted free agent from North Carolina, Parker had to bide his time and learn the system before becoming a starter in his second season.

"I went through the same thing. It's the same deal, two different guys. I try to talk to Nate all the time, give him feedback," said Parker, whose locker at the Steelers' South Side practice facility is near Washington's. "This was a strong game for him. He really stepped up and rose to the occasion."

A big-play receiver, Washington's first regular-season catch was a 27-yard touchdown against Miami in the opener in which he made an acrobatic, leaping grab.

He also scored on a 47-yard touchdown against Kansas City, slanting across the middle on a skinny post and bouncing off a defender en route to the end zone.

Washington is fourth on the team with 30 catches. But he's second in total yards (513), and his 17.1 yards per catch average leads the team.

Those numbers, coupled with Washington's attractive $350,000 salary, make him the best bargain on the team, if not one of the best values in the entire league.

Now you know why the Steelers have made allowances for Washington, letting him play through his mistakes because of his upside.

"I might get away with a couple of things an older guy won't get away with," Washington said. "Last year, I had to work my way in and learn from other guys. This year, I have to be confident out there. I'm learning patience -- on and off the field."

For the Steelers, and Washington, it appears that patience pays.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_482593.html

tony hipchest
12-04-2006, 01:48 PM
Washington is fourth on the team with 30 catches. But he's second in total yards (513), and his 17.1 yards per catch average leads the team.

randy moss- 12 games started 40 rec. 525 yds. 3 td 13.1 ave.

looks like we got the right guy for the right price. he deserves a chance to grow and develop. after all we cant expect him to play like a multi million dollar wr such as moss now can we?

good job nate. keep growing and keep getting better.

TasmanianTroy271
12-04-2006, 01:54 PM
I can't wait for the offseason, because I'm waiting on a Contract Extention for Nate. He's a RFA this year I believe, and he's my next jersey as soon as he's inked for a few more years.

Prosdo
12-04-2006, 01:59 PM
Good game by Nate. I think this guy has a ton of potential. I hope to see him back as well.

wiqidjuggalo
12-05-2006, 10:25 AM
I can't wait for the offseason, because I'm waiting on a Contract Extention for Nate. He's a RFA this year I believe, and he's my next jersey as soon as he's inked for a few more years.



Hell... I bought his jersey during training camp because what I saw the 2 times I was up there was a ton of raw talent and a set of hands that rarely dropped a ball... I don't care if he dropped a couple TD passes or whatever, I saw talent and I hope we keep him on the roster for a few more years.

83-Steelers-43
12-05-2006, 11:04 AM
I had high hopes for this kid at the beginning of the season. For the most part he has shown me that he is not very consistent when it comes to catching the ball. Hopefully he will prove me wrong during the remainder of the season. The Browns game was a step in the right direction.

slashsteel
12-05-2006, 11:13 AM
Have to love a small school success story. Keep on keeping Nate we believe!

Sharkissle29
12-05-2006, 12:15 PM
its funny how ppl jump to different conclusions bc he had a good game...i believe not to long ago their was a thread about giving up on him already....