While the Pittsburgh Steelers are flying high after Sunday night’s bonkers win, one player is wrestling with the realization he wasn’t available to help his team. JuJu Smith-Schuster seemed to take being inactive particularly hard, posting this message to Steelers’ Nation after the game.
It reads: “I feel like I let Steelers Nation down tonight….I’m going to do whatever it takes to get back on the field. Worst feeling of my life…”
Smith-Schuster was held out with a hamstring injury suffered against the Tennessee Titans. While Mike Tomlin said last Tuesday it was a relatively minor injury, it obviously never perked up throughout the week. And being a rookie without practice time meant he had no chance of playing.
Obviously, Smith-Schuster didn’t let anyone down. Injuries are part of the game and it’s better to miss one week than push it and miss a much longer period of time.
Though Smith-Schuster dealt with several injuries during training camp, he’s been healthy during the regular season. and he didn’t miss time at USC either. Not being available when it counted is understandably weighing heavily on the rookie. For all the maturity he’s shown, he’s still a competitor and learning to deal with adversity.
He’s become a fan favorite in such a short amount of time, placing a high level of expectations on himself. He’s fit into the Steelers’ culture perfectly. The locker room embraced him – Antonio Brown had him over to his house on Thanksgiving. And the rookie spent Saturday at the Pitt game where the Panthers upset #2 Miami (FL). He got to be in the locker room after the game where, as in his words, things were “lit.” But Smith-Schuster has stressed being a professional when it comes time to take care of business. Sunday, all he could do was watch.
The Steelers certainly felt his lack of a presence, especially early. Eli Rogers struggled as his replacement and the team dropped somewhere around six passes on the afternoon. With JuJu’s hamstring injury still seemingly minor and the team having until next Monday, there’s a good chance he returns to play the Cincinnati Bengals.