Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster spent most of his Wednesday answering questions in Atlanta, GA on radio row ahead of this year’s Super Bowl about what led to his team not making the playoffs of this past season and what he thinks will ultimately happen with fellow teammates, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, this offseason. Smith-Schuster, however, was asked an actual football-related question occasionally during his Wednesday media circuit and the best one perhaps came from former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who is now an analyst on the NFL Network.
During his short Wednesday afternoon interview on Super Bowl Live, Smith asked Smith-Schuster what’s something in his game that he knows he needs to to work on to improve during the offseason as he goes through the self-evaluation process of getting even better in his third season in the league.
“That’s something that I’ve always though of,” Smith-Schuster said. “I’ve noticed that I’ve mastered playing inside, inside slot, a big-body guy. I can block. My routes are getting better, my hands are getting better. I think for me, more personally, I have to get better at playing as an outside receiver. Being able to be backside one-on-one. The double-teams, being able to take those on, and to read defenses more so at the point. My biggest thing right now is to work on playing that outside role, strongly.”
That’s a great response and something to look forward to in 2019 and especially if Brown is sent packing during the offseason. According to stats kept by Pro Football Focus, Smith-Schuster caught 63 passes for 814 yards and 4 touchdowns out of the slot during the 2018 regular season and that’s not overly surprising. The Steelers used quite a bit of three, four and five receiver personnel groupings in 2018 and if Brown isn’t back in 2019, Smith-Schuster might just find himself being asked to fill those shoes on the outside.