When Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger first entered the league, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster just a small boy, barely on his way to attending school. He is the youngest player that the 36-year-old has ever thrown to in the NFL, either currently or all-time.
Still just 21 years old and in his second season in the NFL, he frankly still has a lot to learn about his own quarterback, who has been at his profession for 15 years now and doing things that few other players at his position are even willing to try, let alone have the ability to pull it off.
That is why he told reporters that he still finds himself surprised by the throws Roethlisberger is willing to attempt in the middle of the game, and his ability to actually connect on them. Not that Smith-Schuster is complaining, because he has been able to take advantage. Such as on the game-clinching 18-yard reception late in Monday’s game.
“That play was just two guys being on the same page. Honestly, working with Ben this past year and a half, he makes throws that still shock me in the middle of the game”, he told reporters in the locker room. “You know, when he made that last pass to me across the middle, he threw it backside. He knew it was man-to-man and I was flashing to come back and he threw it. We’re just trying to be on the same page”.
Well, they certainly have been on the same page this year. The two have connected on 27 passes through three games, which is the fourth-most in the NFL, including 22 over the past two games. His 356 receiving yards are the third-most currently, and he has had over 110 receiving yards in each game. He is also one of only seven players with two receptions of 40 yards or more, while over 70 percent of his receptions have resulted in a first down.
It was that final pass at the end of Monday’s game that put him over 100 yards for the contest, and in discussing the throw, he reiterated, “I was shocked. As soon as I caught it, I was like ‘wow’. That’s Ben for you”.
But people are already saying ‘that’s JuJu for you’ with what he has been accomplishing. He has now played in 17 games in his NFL career and has accumulated 85 receptions for 1273 yards and eight receiving touchdowns.
Over his past 10 games since the Detroit Lions game last season, he has caught 68 passes for 1042 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Over a full season, that would translate to 109 receptions for 1667 yards and 10 touchdowns.