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The Pittsburgh Steelers look to make it two wins in a row tonight when they welcome the Seattle Seahawks to Heinz Field. Unfortunately, they’ll have to do it without JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was put on injured reserve yesterday.
The Steelers will be hard-pressed to compensate for the loss of Smith-Schuster. Beyond being a target for Ben Roethlisberger, there are several aspects of Smith-Schuster’s game — the ability to get open in critical short-yardage downs, navigate in the slot position, and blocking — that Pittsburgh will need to make up for.
“We’re not going to replace (Smith-Schuster) at all. What he brings to our team and the intangibles he has,” said Matt Canada (per TribLive’s Tim Benz). “As far as his catches and those things, we’ll spread those throughout personnel sets, throughout game plans over the course of the season. We’ll just see how that goes.”
It’ll take a village to fill the void of one and more than just a few days of preparation for Seattle. But the Steelers will have to if they hope to keep the offense on track — something they were just starting to do in their Week 5 victory over the Broncos.
Roethlisberger hinted that the remedy might come via tight ends and running backs.
“Playing the slot position in the NFL is different than playing outside. It’s just a different animal,” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday. “I think we have a lot of guys that can do it, but it’s a feel thing. You don’t want to take a big body outside (Claypool) that’s got special skills (to move him inside). I think you’ll see probably some more utilization of the tight ends and running backs in there.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster logged 3,855 yards and 27 total touchdowns in his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.