JuJu Smith-Schuster Mastering The Details

James Harrison, the oldest player on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, had already graduated high school by the time JuJu Smith-Schuster, the youngest player, was born. Smith-Schuster is the youngest player in the league. But that hasn’t prevented him from making an impact.

Even on a team that entered the year full of weapons, Smith-Schuster has carved out a big stake of playtime, seeing more snaps at receiver than any receiver not named Antonio Brown over the last month. But those snaps aren’t given, they’re earned, and at today’s press conference, Mike Tomlin talked about the job the rookie has done.

“He’s working,” Tomlin told reporters. “He’s getting better. He’s answering the bell in terms of the task we’re giving him. We’re thoughtful about the task we give him because he’s young. And he’s doing an acceptable job.”

Tomlin was asked about the details a receiver has to pay attention to in order to succeed and see more of the field.

“Just play a complete game. Blocking assignment, have detail in those blocking assignments. Be a contributor not only in the passing game but the running game whether you have the ball or don’t have the ball. Be a complete football player. Be a football player first, as we like to say.”

Smith-Schuster ranks second in the NFL among rookie receivers in receptions and yards, only trailing Cooper Kupp in both categories. And he’s tied for the rookie lead in touchdowns with a pair. He’s made just as much of an impact in the run game with a couple devastating blocks but also his effort and consistently to crack safeties creeping down to stop Le’Veon Bell and the run game.

There are silly and serious sides to Smith-Schuster that’s endeared himself to the coaching staff and fans. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had a good perspective of it days ago, spending some time with the receiver. In one clip, he’s in his chef’s hat, making Kool-Aid (he’s also riding his bike around Pittsburgh today, be sure to say hello). In another, he points to his white board of chores and bible verses.

It’s been a big change in Smith-Schuster’s life. Living on the West Coast his whole life, coming over to Pittsburgh, all at an age where most people are still sleeping off their college hangover. Instead, it’s opposing defensive backs who are waking up with headaches.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • SeventhHeavan

    “Fight on” Juju!

  • nutty32

    Once he starts getting opportunities to make those combat catches he was famous for at USC, stuff’s gonna be insane.

  • DSG

    He’s my favorite player on offense. It makes me weepy to see a wr block like that.

  • Balok’s Plight

    I would prefer Eli in there for the short routes to pick up critical first downs. Like Hines and Randle El did. We are missing that right now. AB is double covered and we need reliable route running. TE productions has been poor since Heath left

  • T3xassteelers

    Nah, Juju hasn’t given us any reason to not trust him catching the ball. Juju > Eli all day

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I like good JuJu better than bad JuJu.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Now let’s string together a streak of clean games with no holding or block in the back calls. Channel that physicality young buck! Dude is goi n g to be a good one

  • gdeuce

    Juju fights for the ball, unlike Eli

  • Constantinople

    hey! same here!

  • Constantinople

    I’m going woo-woo for ju-ju!

  • Mister Wirez

    In the chefs hat making koolaide… Lol, yep he’s a kid.

  • Scunge

    Eli has 11 targets with only 6 catches and just 3 first downs. That is not very productive by any measure, catch percentage, first down percentage, etc.

    JuJu? 23 targets, 15 catches, 12 first downs. THAT is being very productive in addition to his physical blocking. JuJu has the best first down percentage on the team, has the best catch percentage among the WRs, better than Brown even.

    I have a hard time understanding how Rogers should even be active on gameday. Not the punt returner, not the slot WR, what use does he have? What does he bring to the table?

  • Dorian James

    I think that will come, but not until late in the season probably. I love his effort though

  • Axe Skot

    He’s a Steeler alright!

  • John Pennington

    I know JuJu is young and its his first year but he needs to work on his holding penalties which is hurting the team.

  • Dorothy Williams

    Juju is the best guy for the team string young eager humble born to be exactly what he is the brand new all American Steeler. A warrior for God, I for the good nah the greatness of the sport.