JuJu Smith-Schuster injury update: Will Steelers WR play in NFL wild-card game vs. Chiefs?

Could the Steelers’ offensive unit get a big boost before Sunday’s wild-card matchup against the Chiefs?

Pittsburgh designated JuJu Smith-Schuster to return from injured reserve Thursday, giving the 25-year-old wide receiver the opportunity to participate in practice for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in Week 5. It was originally thought that he would be out. for the remainder of the 2021 season, but after the Steelers clinched a playoff spot, a Smith-Schuster performance is back on the table.

Here are the latest updates on Smith-Schuster ahead of Sunday’s game.

Will JuJu Smith-Schuster play the Chiefs?

the steelers Smith-Schuster officially activated from injured reserve on Saturday. He’s expected to play the Chiefs, though he’ll likely be on an instant count.

“I can’t believe I get another chance to get out on the field with this team and play a playoff game to keep our season alive,” Smith-Schuster tweeted Saturday.

Smith-Schuster underwent shoulder surgery after Pittsburgh’s Week 5 win over Denver and later advertised on social media he was “heartbroken” to miss the rest of the season. Now, just three months later, he is ready to return to the field.

“Looks smooth in practice”, Steelers star TJ Watt had this to say about Smith-Schuster before the team brought him back to the active roster. “I don’t know if that means he’s going to play, if he’s not going to play. That’s all on top of my salary. It’s nice to have him back though. I know it’s hard to come back from a big injury like that, so I’m happy to see a smile on his face and see him again in practice.”

What JuJu Smith-Schuster brings to the Steelers’ offense

During the 2020 season, Smith-Schuster totaled 97 receptions for 831 yards and nine touchdowns. Much of his production came in the short to intermediate passing game. He offered Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a big, tough target, often serving as a safety valve whenever Roethlisberger saw a charge coming.

With Smith-Schuster out for most of the regular season, Pittsburgh relied on other dynamic threats in the passing game like Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth. Rookie running back Najee Harris has also been a terrific start for Roethlisberger, racking up 467 receiving yards this season on top of his 1,200 rushing yards.

But none of those guys can fill the exact role of Smith-Schuster. He brings an added dimension to an offense that will need to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and company.

Steelers vs. Injury Report chiefs

(Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday)

Team Player Position Injury game state
steelmakers ben roethlisberger Quarterback Chest/right shoulder
steelmakers najee harris RB Elbow
steelmakers Arthur Maulet CB Concussion
steelmakers Dan Moore Jr. Old Testament Ankle
steelmakers Trai Turner GRAM Knee
bosses darrel williams RB Toe Questionable
bosses Clyde Edwards Helaire RB Shoulder Out of
bosses orlando brown T Calf
bosses gay willie pound Wrist
bosses Tyreek Hill WR Heel
bosses travis kelce TEA Hips
bosses Tyrant Mathieu yes Knee
bosses L’Jarius Sneed CB Knee
bosses andrew wylie GRAM gluteus