PITTSBURGH — With pass receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster set up for shoulder surgical treatment Wednesday that will sideline him for 4 months, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn’t searching for a single person to change his star receiver.
Instead, it will be a cumulative effort by gamers like James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud to fill deep space left by the fifth-year receiver, who will be put on hurt reserve.
“When you talk about losing a guy like JuJu and how he functions within the framework of our offense, usually you’re talking about multiple people assuming the role in some form or- fashion,” Tomlin stated Tuesday. “… We’re not trying to replace JuJu. We’re just trying to provide additional opportunity for those that get expanded roles.”
Smith-Schuster was 4th on the Steelers in targets through 5 weeks and had just 15 receptions for 129 backyards and a hurrying goal. But even while restricted with the shoulder injury recently and the injury to his ribs versus the Cincinnati Bengals, he played 69% of offending snaps this season.
Smith-Schuster, 24, was likewise a dependable target for Ben Roethlisberger. Since the start of last season, Roethlisberger had a 72% conclusion rate to Smith-Schuster, 10% greater than when he targeted all other receivers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And, while the remainder of the Steelers’ getting corps had a hard time hanging on to the ball, Smith-Schuster had just 2 drops given that the start of the 2020 season, while his colleagues had 43 in the exact same period.
Washington, McCloud and Cody White, who were signed to the active lineup from the practice team prior to the Steelers’ Week 5 success versus the Denver Broncos, are very first in line to soak up Smith-Schuster’s on-field obligations and sign up with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as the Steelers’ leading getting alternatives.
Washington formerly requested for a trade throughout the preseason due to the fact that he was dissatisfied with his restricted function on the group, a source informed ESPN’s Adam Schefter, however he stayed with the Steelers after his demand. With injuries to others in the getting space like Claypool and Johnson, Washington has currently had actually a broadened function this season, however Smith-Schuster’s injury provides him a more long-term location.
“We got a lot of confidence in James, and so however unfortunate the injury is for JuJu, it does provide an opportunity for James to expand his role and to do some things that we all know he’s capable of doing.”
Washington missed out on the Broncos video game with a groin injury, however Tomlin stated Tuesday he anticipates him to go back to practice today with a “strong consideration” to play Sunday night versus the Seattle Seahawks.
In 4 looks this season, Washington has 9 receptions for 99 backyards, consisting of a 30-yard catch versus the Packers. He’s revealed big-play capability in his restricted snaps throughout his profession, and Roethlisberger promoted for Washington to get on the field more a year back.
The Steelers will likewise aim to main return male McCloud as another gamer to plug the holes left by Smith-Schuster. And, it will provide White, who filled numerous functions on the practice team reproducing opposing groups’ finest getting danger, an opportunity to make an influence on his own offense.
“Ray-Ray carved out a niche for himself as a return man, but that’s his day job, and he’s been working to develop as a receiver and has done a great job of doing so,” Tomlin stated. “For a guy like Cody White, who’s been fighting and scrapping for an opportunity to lay a foundation for where he hopes to be a good career for him. And he’s had a window because of lack of availability of others over the course of the last several weeks.”
Tomlin likewise didn’t eliminate looking outside the company for aid completing the receiver space and later on Tuesday, the Steelers signed experienced receiver Anthony Miller to their practice team.
Initially prepared in the 2nd round by the Chicago Bears in 2018, Miller was traded to the Houston Texans prior to the season however was just recently launched by Houston after playing in 2 video games. He has 139 profession captures for 1,587 backyards and 12 goals in his profession.