He may have nearly 300 receiving yards and a couple of touchdowns over the course of his past two games, but I still instead want to focus on the blocking of rookie Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who I think by now has pretty much silenced any remaining doubters he might have had.
The second-round pick, who tomorrow is going to play in his final game as a 20-year-old, is still a work in progress, and that includes in the blocking department, but he knows enough, and has enough ability, that the team feels more than comfortable in using him in roles most wide receivers are not.
I showed you a play earlier today in a film study of Vance McDonald in which the pair set up a screen for Martavis Bryant that picked up 13 yards. I feel these two are working up something of a rapport together, which can only be a good thing for the team.
But since I talked about that play then, I don’t need to talk about it now, so let’s focus on the second half instead. And yes, I do realize that I also talked about the following play in the previous article, but yeah. Smith-Schuster seemed surprised by Eli Rogers’ block, and had to loop back to catch the cornerback, but he did so and provided a nice seal to create a wide running lane for the first down.
One thing I like about Smith-Schuster is that he still gives effort on the back side of plays, because you never know when that might become useful. This is just one example of that, even though the play went deep off the right end.
Later, at the end of the third quarter, he was part of another screen pass to Bryant, helping him pick up 10 yards. He motioned further out prior to the snap and led the charge down the field as Jesse James ran past the person he was supposed to block.
On the key third-down conversion late to Bryant, the rookie played a crucial role in setting up a pick over the middle that provided the former a clean release and helped him escape up the right sideline for 19 yards.
If you didn’t already like him, you should after watching him find work at the end of this 32-yard Antonio Brown reception that basically won the game, or at least set up what went on to being the game-winning field goal.
I have a feeling 19 jerseys are only going to get more and more popular over time, and for good reason. He does a lot more than just catch passes.