The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top pass-catcher in 2020 missed the final 12 games this season. But could JuJu Smith-Schuster suit up against the Chiefs?
It’s safe to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive unit didn’t scare a lot of teams this season. Mike Tomlin’s club 23rd in the NFL yards gained per game and 21st in the league in scoring. The club totaled at least 30 points once in 17 outings. And that was in a 41-37 Sunday night loss to the Chargers at Los Angeles.
From an aging Ben Roethlisberger to an offensive line and its season-long struggles to some adjustments to new coordinator Matt Canada. The Steelers couldn’t get out of their own way in the first quarter. Tomlin’s team scored a mere 37 points in the first 15 minutes of games this year. Ouch!
But help may be on the way.
JuJu Smith-Schuster has a chance to play for the Steelers in the playoffs
Fifth-year wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, who last played in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, returned to practice on Thursday. The team also announced that wideout James Washington is back as well after being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Before going down in October, he caught only 15 passes for 129 yards and zero scores. In 2020, he totaled a team-high 97 receptions for 831 yards (second to Diontae Johnson) and was tied with Chase Claypool with club-high nine touchdown receptions. The 25-year-old performer has been more of a safety valve for “Big Ben” the past two seasons, averaging a mere 8.6 yards per reception.
The inconsistent Steelers obviously face quite the uphill task. On Sunday night, the team returns to Arrowhead Stadium for a rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 16, Tomlin’s team was pushed around by a 36-10 count. So could having Smith-Schuster, who totaled 13 receptions (on 19 targets) for 157 yards and one score in last year’s playoff loss to the Browns, be a big-time factor after a long absence?