The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Neither JuJu Smith-Schuster nor Diontae Johnson will be available for the Steelers on Sunday.
Explanation: The Steelers’ wide receiver room is in shambles right now. They have already waived one wide receiver from their roster who began the season with them, while another was placed on the Reserve/Injured List. They were end-of-roster guys, but Smith-Schuster and Johnson, who both are in the concussion protocol, are their starters and most productive wideouts.
A report yesterday indicated that the Steelers were uncertain about JuJu Smith-Schuster’s status, that he also had a knee injury that he suffered on the same play as that which he was concussed. Johnson took a scary-looking hit, and there are indications that he could be in the protocol for a while as well.
Even though the Steelers’ season is in an incredibly vulnerable position, there is no rushing back from concussions, and teams are obligated to simply wait these things out. Players also understand their rights, as we saw with Cordy Glenn earlier this year when he felt he was being rushed back.
In Johnson’s case, he is a rookie, and missed practice time is going to kill his chances of playing anyway. As for Smith-Schuster, he has been nicked up throughout the year. Now with a knee injury on top of everything else, it’s hard to see him playing.
Truth be told, I’m not optimistic about seeing Johnson back next week, but Smith-Schuster’s case is different. He’s already been out and about in public since his concussion and doesn’t appear to be suffering symptoms. He may quickly clear the concussion protocol, if he hasn’t already. Today will be five days since it happened.
As for his knee injury, he has been on the injury report a number of times this year already and hasn’t missed a game. He is a veteran and won’t need to practice to play. If he can move around on Sunday, he’ll be out there, even if he is not 100 percent. Of course, we’ll learn more about his condition later today.