James is slated to be the clear-cut No. 1 option at tight end for the Steelers in 2017 after they released Ladarius Green (concussion) on Thursday, ESPN's Adam Caplan reports. James is cemented atop the depth chart at tight end in Pittsburgh at this point, while the Steelers' front office was forced to let Green walk following a failed physical. Green only appeared in six games last season, so James became comfortable with the first-team offense during his sophomore campaign as he racked up 39 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns on 60 targets. He'll be backed up by second-year TE Xavier Grimble, who now figures to be in line for an increase in volume after seeing just 21 balls thrown his way as a rookie.
James caught five passes for 48 yards in Pittsburgh's 36-17 AFC championship loss to New England. Despite trailing all game, all but one of James' receptions came before halftime, including what appeared to be a 19-yard touchdown that, upon review, was ruled down by contact at the one-yard line. The Steelers ultimately settled for a Chris Boswell field-goal, and never reached the end zone again until the final minutes of the game.
James caught five passes for 83 yards in Pittsburgh's 18-16 playoff win over Kansas City. Prior to Sunday, James had never totaled more than 59 yards in a game and, in 27 regular and post season games, had averaged just 15.6 yards. The Steelers will need another big game from him when they head to New England next week, where they have not won since 2008.
James caught one pass for six yards in Pittsburgh's 30-12 wild-card win against Miami on Sunday. After jumping out to a 20-6 lead, the Steelers attempted just six passes after halftime, leading to a quiet afternoon for anyone not named Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell. Even if Ladarius Green (concussion) misses next week's game, temper your expectations for James against a Kansas City defense that held opposing tight ends to an average of 43 yards per game and just four touchdowns all season.
James caught two passes for 16 yards in the Steelers' 27-24 overtime win against Cleveland on Sunday. The second-year tight end failed to take advantage of Ladarius Green missing his tenth game this season. Targeted three times, this game was on par with his performance all season, and finished with 338 yards and three touchdowns on 39 receptions.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|6||10/15||@Kansas City Chiefs||7||5.41|
|12||11/27||Green Bay Packers||23||7.89|
|15||12/17||New England Patriots||9||6.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||35||24||197||2||11||8.21||31|