It hasn’t been a great week to be a Pittsburgh Steelers pass-catcher.
However, the team received some needed good publicity when the NFL announced second-year Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was added to the Pro Bowl roster on Monday. Smith-Schuster will be replacing teammate Antonio Brown, who will officially miss the game due to what was officially called an injury, although Brown may just want to skip the game due to recent negative media attention.
Yet this is JuJu’s big moment, and the young USC product couldn’t appear to be more elated to take part in the league’s annual All-Star game.
What a blessing! To think how far I’ve come from where I started… Dreamed about playing in this game, and it’s a huge honor to be recognized in this way, thank you!! It’s littttyyy!!! 🔥💫 pic.twitter.com/lDmeMOZ8Bh
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) January 7, 2019
Smith-Schuster’s 2018 campaign included 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and 7 touchdowns total. After an impressive rookie season, many wondered how Smith-Schuster would be able to build off his initial success. His answer? Finishing top five in the AFC in both receptions and receiving yards.
2018 also saw JuJu take on more responsibility in the offense. With Brown constantly double-teamed, Smith-Schuster was asked to make big plays when it counted, and he certainly rose to the occasion more times than not.
“He is a great player. He does everything well. He’s got the ability to play outside, inside. He is quick, he is fast, and he’s strong with the ball in his hands,” said New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick ahead of facing Smith-Schuster last season. “Long passes are a problem. Catch and run passes are a problem. He does a great job of going up and getting the ball, taking it away from defenders. He is very athletic, fast, explosive powerful, hard to tackle.”
It’s refreshing to have such a vibrant and positive presence in the locker room amid a slew of negativity, as Smith-Schuster’s infectious personality has earned him thousands upon thousands of fans outside of the city of Pittsburgh by just being himself. It remains to be seen if Smith-Schuster will be replacing Brown as the team’s number one receiver in 2019. For now though, JuJu will get to live out a childhood dream of playing in the Pro Bowl, a well deserved achievement for the superstar in the making.
The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 27th at 3:00 PM ET in Orlando, Florida. You can watch it on ESPN/ABC television networks.