Film Room: JuJu Smith-Schuster Active In Brief Debut

While he will not be out on the field tomorrow with his teammates, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster still figures to be an important part of the offense this season. It remains to be seen how much time he might miss with a bone bruise—perhaps just a week—but while we wait for the next game, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look back on his debut, even if it was a rather brief one.

He only played a relative handful of snaps, but those that he did play proved fairly active. He touched the ball just twice, but he was incorporated into a lot of movement, including the first play of the game, in which they used him as window dressing to set up other plays later on, motioning him from far outside the numbers to across the formation to suggest a jet sweep.

On the second play, the Steelers aligned him as a wing off the ball, like a tight end. At the snap, he ran across the quarterback’s front as he showed play-action. As Joshua Dobbs rolled out to his right, Smith-Schuster slipped out toward the flat for an easy catch-and-run, though it only picked up four yards.

The Steelers failed to convert on third and long, but it didn’t take him long to touch the ball again. After going vertical on first down, the offense took advantage of the threat of the jet sweep shown earlier and actually ran the play. It was executed well with David Johnson’s lead block, Smith-Schuster showing purpose and fluidity—and suddenness and glide, if you get the inside joke—to pick up nine yards.

The offense failed to convert on third and one, however, and the would have just one play left on the day thanks in small part to Dobbs, and in large part to himself. The rookie quarterback threw an interception on the first play of the next drive.

Smith-Schuster, the eager beaver that he is, decided not only that he would make the tackle on the returner…he would somersault into him to make the tackle. In doing so, he collided with a teammate also attempting to tackle the returner and ended up giving himself what the team later ruled him out of the game for as a concussion.

Fortunately that didn’t cause him to miss much practice time at all, as he was quickly cleared, but soon after he suffered yet another injury, his third since training camp opened, though fortunately none of them have been serious. But it will be interesting to see how much playing time he might get, should he be healthy, in the third preseason game.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • RickM

    Yes, there some good early signs in that first exhibition game. I had read before that he was nicked a lot at USC (i.e. minor injuries but played). But I never expected three different minor injuries already. Hopefully this is just a string of bad luck.

  • VaDave

    I agree, and not leading with one head on a tackle would be a better option than self concussing yourself on a dead play. BTW, didn’t that second gif remind you of vintage Ward? We sure got a lot of mileage out of that play over the years.

  • RickM

    Yes it definitely reminded me of Hines. Hopefully this kid can stop with the nagging injuries and begin a productive career.

  • Ace

    My goodness FItz. Hit the hole!

  • nutty32

    JJ was the ultimate tease. Would have loved to see more. He looked much faster out there than I anticipated/his combine would indicate; game speed in pads is what counts, I guess.

  • Bobby hains

    I think also Schuster is going to be awesome for us! With AB an Bryant an J. J. it’s gonna be exciting to watch them rip up defenses.. You’re right about another ward

  • Bobby hains

    Second that my friend! Cross your fingers he stays healthy

  • Terrible Towlie

    if it was regular season he’d probably play

  • Terrible Towlie

    there’s a good difference between timed speed and being chased speed

  • John James

    He played with more intensity and passion at ‘SC than anyone I can remember. The problem with that is it led to constant scrapes, sprains, bruises, and tweaks. I dont’ remember him ever playing a game healthy. Looking back, it sure was impressive that he was able to do so much while being so damn banged up. If he can find a way to stay on the field I have no doubt that he will end up being a real fan favorite.