It’s hard to get the image of JuJu Smith-Schuster grimacing in pain while being helped off the field Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-19 win over the Denver Broncos, especially knowing what the injury entailed.
Since that injury occurred, Smith-Schuster has made a public appearance at his foundation’s charity dinner. Captured on video, an emotional Smith-Schuster described how much football means to him in a vulnerable moment, which should tell fans everything they need to know about the type of player, person, and teammate he is. He’s a Pittsburgh Steeler to the core.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2021
Some words from me. Thank you everyone for the love and support! pic.twitter.com/kCmhyKSXVy
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) October 13, 2021
On Thursday, just one day removed from shoulder surgery that will keep him out for the year, Smith-Schuster was back at practice with his teammates and coaches, creating smiles all around as a key locker room guy was back around his guys. One such guy who was happy to see Smith-Schuster back at the facility and around teammates was rookie running back Najee Harris.
During his weekly media availability Friday, Harris told reporters that Smith-Schuster’s presence provided a real boost to the team, and said that the fifth-year receiver is embracing the adversity that he’s battling with the season-ending injury.
“JuJu brings probably, like, the most energy; he’s probably one of the most energetic people out there,” Harris said to reporters during his media availability, according to Steelers.com. “So, you know, you see him; he’s always been putting a smile on a lot of people’s faces because, you know, he’s always going there, walking to practice screaming and yelling and, you know, after he just got back from surgery now, and after he’s facing this adversity right now, you would think that, you know, you’d be somewhat kind of down, but you know, not even at all with JuJu; he’s embracing it. He’s actually run into it.
“So, you know, when you have a type of guy like that around you, you know, obviously you want to make sure you played better. Not only that, but it makes you wanna strive to play even better and more harder for JuJu, you know? JuJu, I feel like he’s a captain here, so it’s always good to see JuJu around.”
Harris’s comments come just two days after veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke about how much Smith-Schuster means to him, and the team in general, and how Roethlisberger felt about losing his slot receiver for the season.
The comments paint a clear picture about how the guys inside the locker room truly feel about Smith-Schuster and how much he means to the team, which will hopefully help turn the conversation regarding Smith-Schuster around after one local media member continues to harass him on social media on anything and everything Smith-Schuster related.