JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Play More Mature Than His Age Suggests

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has a penalty accepted against him for every game that he has played as a professional football player—though not one in every game he has played—after adding an illegal block in the back penalty in yesterday’s game.

But he also added another touchdown to his resume, now with the most touchdown receptions among the wide receivers and tied with tight end Jesse James through four games with two touchdown receptions. Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant each has one, but running back Le’Veon Bell leads the team with three rushing touchdowns.

Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ second-round draft pick this year, has essentially ‘officially’ become their starting slot receiver after initially splitting reps with Eli Rogers through the first three games. Rogers spent most of the time there in the opener, but by the last game, he was outplayed by more than a two-to-one margin.

Yesterday, the third-year wide receiver was on the bench in street clothes while Smith-Schuster logged the bulk of the playing time, though not proportionally quite as high as the week before because the Steelers ran a lot more personnel packages involving additional tight ends and the fullback.

The youngest player in the NFL at just 20 years old, he finished the game with three receptions on four targets, all three of them going for at least 10 yards, including two of over 15 yards. His shortest receptions was an 11-yard catch for a touchdown, which he celebrated with a Dragonball Z-inspired Kamehameha…something that I never thought I would have to write.

My Word program, by the way, recognized Kamehameha as a word, and automatically capitalized it. Okay then. This led me to the realization that Kamehameha was the name of a ruling house in Hawai’I during the 19th century. Fun fact, in case you also didn’t know.

Not only that, he also put another defensive player on his hind quarters on a block, this time at the goal line for a successful conversion for a score, Bell’s first of two touchdowns. Despite the fact that he more than did his job the first time around, the Steelers put out three tight ends and a fullback the next time they were at the one.

His longest reception of the day was a 17-yarder on which he was targeted by Ben Roethlisberger down the field on third and 10, catching the pass in traffic and showing toughness in holding on to the ball through hard contact.

He also had a 19-yard reception, beating Lardarius Webb out of the slot on third and seven, earlier in the game on a drive that led to a field goal, giving him 47 receiving yards on the day on three receptions, a new high after having 39 the week before.

On the season, Smith-Schuster now has eight receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 12.8 yards per reception. And nobody can even legally buy him a beer to celebrate his early successes and the bright future ahead of him. But don’t worry, I drank a Pilsner Urquell in his honor.

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