PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will be without one of their most reliable receivers the rest of the season.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster dislocated a shoulder on Sunday and is undergoing surgery later this week that is expected to sideline him about four months, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Smith-Schuster, who signed a one-year deal to return to the Steelers in free agency, lowered his right shoulder and took a hard, low hit from Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson on a jet sweep in the second quarter of Sunday’s 27-19 victory.
He got up slowly and was quickly assisted by Steelers medical personnel, who helped him off the field while he appeared to be in excruciating pain. After a brief check of his shoulder on the sideline, Smith-Schuster immediately went to the locker room, bypassing the blue injury tent. He went to the hospital for further evaluation, coach Mike Tomlin said after the game.
“It’s tough seeing him in that type of pain, and that’s for anybody on the field, it’s tough seeing somebody get hurt that’s a key player to the offense,” wide receiver Diontae Johnson said Monday. “Just got to rally around him and just be there for him off the field.”
Smith-Schuster ranks fourth on the team in targets and receptions behind Najee Harris, Johnson and Chase Claypool. But throughout his career, Smith-Schuster has been a reliable third-down weapon for Ben Roethlisberger, and he has earned a reputation for being a gritty, tough player.
Smith-Schuster, 24, has 323 receptions for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns in 63 games played over five seasons. After a nine-touchdown 2020 season, Smith-Schuster has just one — a rushing score — this season. The shoulder injury is the second in-game injury he sustained this year. Against the Las Vegas Raiders, he sustained a rib injury that limited him, though it didn’t cause him to miss a game.
The loss of Smith-Schuster is a hit to a wide receivers room that hasn’t had a full complement of healthy players since Pittsburgh’s Week 1 win against the Buffalo Bills. Every receiver who made the roster after training camp — with the exception of Ray-Ray McCloud — has missed game time with an injury.
Even before Smith-Schuster’s injury, the Steelers were down a receiver with James Washington inactive due to a groin injury. The Steelers already signed practice squad receiver Cody White, opting to sign him to the 53-man before Sunday’s game rather than temporarily elevating him to the active roster.
“Injuries are going to happen,” Johnson said. “And it’s next man up, so Ray-Ray’s gotta step up, and that’s how it’s always been — one person goes down, somebody got to step in, and everybody is capable of [contributing to the offense].
“We are still going to go out there and play for JuJu. We still go out there and do our thing Sundays and get ready, for this week, too.”