With all the drama that seems to be attached to the Pittsburgh Steelers the last several weeks at least one young player on the team doesn’t seem to be caught up in any of it. That player is rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, the team’s second-round draft pick this year out of USC.
Smith-Schuster has been a breath of fresh air for the Steelers this season as the young wide receiver just goes out and plays football every week. Currently the youngest player in the NFL at 20 years old, Smith-Schuster seems like he’s just glad to be contributing player in the NFL right now and one that doesn’t take it for granted.
In the Steelers Sunday home win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith-Schuster caught just two passes for 39 yards with one of those receptions resulting in a 31-yard touchdown. That touchdown, by the way, was his third of the season and that’s now the most scores in NFL history by a player before his 21st birthday.
If you’re one of those fans who hates post-touchdown celebrations, you still probably cracked a little smile when Smith-Schuster played a quick game of hide and seek with running back Le’Veon Bell while the two players were still in the end zone following the rookie’s scoring reception. It didn’t result in a penalty, it didn’t disrespect the Bengals and it showed just how youthful Smith-Schuster still is.
Smith-Schuster’s second catch in Sunday’s win over the Bengals might show on the stat sheet but what he did after making the reception doesn’t.
With 48 seconds left in the first half, the Steelers offense faced a 1st and 10 from their own 39-yard-line. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger then proceeded to connect with Smith-Schuster on a short pass over the middle as the wide receiver was running a crossing route. After making the catch, it looked like Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard was going to tackle Smith-Schuster quickly and had that had happened the Steelers would have probably either had to use their final timeout of the half or quickly get up to the line of scrimmage and spike the football to conserve time.
Instead, Smith-Schuster was able to break away from Dennard’s tackle attempt and get safely out of bounds which in turned stopped the clock. Oh, he also gained 9 yards on the play as well. The Steelers offense eventually drove down for a field goal to close out the first half.
While he might still be a kid at heart, Smith-Schuster seems to be handling all the recent team drama very well and much like a grizzled veteran would. There’s no better example of that than what he said to the media on Monday just hours after fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant disrespected him on his Instagram account. Smith Schuster reportedly said he talked Monday with Bryant about his Instagram post and indicated there are no hard feelings between the two players and that he understands his teammate’s frustration.
“I’m totally fine,” he said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Me and Martavis are totally cool. Ever since I got here from the beginning, we’re close friends. We all want the ball. It’s hard.”
How great of is that for him to take such a high road?
It’s easy to see why Smith-Schuster has quickly become a fan favorite in Pittsburgh and here’s to hoping his future actions both on and off the field mimic is current ones as he grows older.
.@TeamJuJu Touchdown ✅
A lively game of hide-and-seek ✅
PIT 14 | CIN 7 pic.twitter.com/EvrOPkrRJ3
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 22, 2017