Though many have considered JuJu Smith-Schuster “1B” to Antonio Brown’s “1A” in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense, Smith-Schuster doesn’t believe he’s quite there. Yet.
Appearing on the Stephen A Smith Show on ESPN Radio Monday afternoon, Smith-Schuster was asked to evaluate where he’s at in his career.
“I think I’m good,” he said. “I’m not great. I think there’s a lot I need to work on.”
On the field this year, his play has been great. Smith-Schuster leads the team in receptions and yards and has been the most consistent source of big plays for this offense through the first month and a half. He still doesn’t turn 22 until next month and has set multiple records for production for a 21 year old.
But when asked about his production, outpacing Brown in those areas, he deflected and said in part, it’s because of the attention AB gets.
“I can’t take that away from Antonio Brown,” he said when asked if Brown is no longer the clear #1 in this offense. “A guy who is being double teamed triple teamed. So someone has to eat off his plate. So that’s me and James Conner. We’re taking on that role. Two young guys just coming in and just trying to fill those yards and those catches. Making those plays.”
Smith-Schuster said he’s learned about the game by watching Brown work, well-known at this point for his relentless work ethic. Like catching 120+ passes after practice.
I counted AB's catches on the JUGS machine the first four practices (before his quad injury). Number he did each day.
Practice #1 – 129
#2 – 128
#3 – 138
#4 – 118
No GM, no coach near him. Just teammates, waiting in line to follow his lead. https://t.co/TVUXLc1qsX
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 15, 2018
He also praised the Steelers’ organization and talent that surrounds him for being as productive as he has.
“When I got to the Steelers, I saw something more to it. Playing with Ben and the guys we have, the o-linemen, great guys. Just the organization itself. Mike Tomlin, the realest coach I’ve ever been coached by. I saw that having a guy like Ben in the locker room and having him as my QB, I would be something more and bigger. It’s just a role I take on. I love it.”
He went on to say he “embraces” the doubts around him coming out of the draft. That he was too young and too immature. While Smith-Schuster is arguably football’s goofiest dude, he’s never had an issue when it comes time to work. It’s made him a household name on and off the field.
And maybe someday soon, a player much better than just “good.”