Can the Steelers strike unit get a big boost ahead of Sunday’s Wild-card competition against the Chiefs?
Pittsburgh named JuJu Smith-Schuster back from the injured reserve on Thursday, giving the 25-year-old the chance to take part in practice for the first time since he injured his shoulder in Week 5. He was initially expected to be out of action. for the remainder of the 2021 season, but after the Steelers secured a playoff spot, Smith-Schuster’s performance was back across the board.
Here are the latest Smith-Schuster updates ahead of Sunday’s game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs Chiefs?
The Steelers officially activated Smith-Schuster from the injured reserve on Saturday. He’s supposed to be up against the Chiefs, though he’ll probably be scored.
“I can’t believe I get another chance to get on the field with this team and play in a playoff to keep our season alive,” Smith-Schuster tweeted on Saturday.
God answered my prayers and I recovered from a season-end shoulder injury earlier than expected. I can’t believe I get another chance to get on the pitch with this team and play in a playoff to keep our season going. Steelers Nation, #HereWeGo! pic.twitter.com/SdAKl3SrYx
– JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) January 15, 2022
Smith-Schuster had shoulder surgery after Pittsburgh’s Week 5 win over Denver and then announcements on social media he’s “heartbroken” about missing the rest of the season. Now, just three months later, he is ready to once again take over the field.
“He looks smooth in practice,” Steelers star TJ Watt on Smith-Schuster before the team put him back on the active roster. “I don’t know if that means he’s going to play, if he’s not playing. It’s all above my salary. However, it’s good to have him back. I know it’s very difficult. to come back from such a big injury, so I’m happy to see a smile on his face and see him again in practice.”
What JuJu Smith-Schuster Brings to the Steelers Attack
During the 2020 season, Smith-Schuster made a total of 97 hits for 831 yards and 9 touchdowns. Much of his output comes from short-to-medium passing. He offers Steelers defender Ben Roethlisberger a big and powerful target, and he often acts as a safety valve whenever Roethlisberger sees a nightmare coming.
With Smith-Schuster absent for most of the season, Pittsburgh relies on other dynamic threats in the ongoing game such as Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth. Re-run rookie Najee Harris is also a great outlet for Roethlisberger, as he hit 467 receiving yards this season in addition to his 1,200 yard dash.
But none of that could take on the exact role of Smith-Schuster. He brings an extra dimension to an offense that will need to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and Co.
Steelers vs. Injury Report. Chiefs
(Currently 5:30 p.m. ET Friday)
|Steelsmith||Ben Roethlisberger||QB||Chest / right shoulder||–|
|Steelsmith||Dan Moore Jr.||OT||Fish’s eyes||–|
|Chief||Willie is gay||LB||Wrist||–|