Washington led the Pittsburgh Steelers in receiving last preseason with eight catches for 108 yards, but was sent to the bench almost the entire regular season. He was even released at one point.
But Washington re-signed with the team a week later, was activated in the playoffs, and in the AFC Championship game made a third-and-13 conversion and broke up an interception to allow the Steelers an opening-drive field goal.
After a superb spring performance, Washington was hailed as the receiver to watch by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and Washington is proving him right this training camp.
At the run test, Washington blew away a fast field in the final sprint of the final heat to earn Willie Parker's temporary tag as the team's fastest man.
On the first day of practice, Washington blew past Ricardo Colclough to haul in a deep pass from Roethlisberger.
In the meantime, first-team wide receiver Cedrick Wilson has struggled with dropped passes. Could Washington, currently the No. 3 receiver, become a true factor in the Steelers' offense this season?
"No question," said Coach Bill Cowher. "In the second year, Nate is definitely a guy that you can just see the confidence and his understanding and the way he carries himself on the field. He's a guy we're going to count a lot on. He did a lot of good things for us last year and you can see how much more confidence he has this year."
Larry Foote bemoaned the loss of roommate Charlie Batch because "he brought a TV and his wife made these great cookies that he shared all the time." But Batch opted to move on, leaving Foote to room with fellow linebacker James Harrison.
"Silverback makes me sleep in the closet," Foote said.
"Larry Foote lies," said Harrison. "I don't make him sleep in the closet. I make him sleep on the floor. I've got a king bed. He sleeps on the floor."
The best hit of Monday's practice may have been Kendall Simmons's blind-side block of linebacker Clark Haggans, who was trailing a running play before Simmons used his shoulder to level Haggans. He got up slowly.
"I didn't even see him," Haggans said. "I couldn't believe it. Was it that ugly?"
Well, it looked like a death blow.
"Oh, I was fine. I just couldn't believe it."
Was Simmons worried that he might have hurt Haggans?
"No," Simmons said, "because if he had a chance he would've knocked my head off, too. That's how we play ball."
When Haggans heard of Simmons's remark, the smile left his face.
"Okay," was all the solemn Haggans said before walking away.
Stay tuned for further update.
The Steelers moved inside to the St. Vincent College gym Monday morning because of wet fields. … Travis Kirschke (back) and Dan Kreider (foot) missed the afternoon practice and are day-to-day. Rookie Santonio Holmes aggravated a hamstring injury suffered during his summer workouts in Pittsburgh. Cowher believes it's a minor injury. … Cowher said the field heat index in the afternoon was 97 degrees. He said his team is in great shape and that the present heat wave shouldn't bother them.
POSTELL ALWAYS RINGS TWICE
The Steelers re-signed first-year linebacker Malcolm Postell of Pitt. He'd signed with the Steelers on Feb. 17 this year and played in NFL Europe for the Berlin Thunder. He was released on June 14.