JuJu Smith-Schuster ready to be Steelers' No. 1 WR, says 'there's really no ... drama in our locker room'
Antonio Brown is gone and Smith-Schuster has been elevated to Pittsburgh's No. 1 pass-catching option
First, Cleveland's roster is stacked, and it starts with second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield. Second, the Steelers are without two of the league's best players; Antonio Brown forced a trade to Oakland and Le'Veon Bell sat out the 2018 season and signed with the Jets in free agency. But those left behind in Pittsburgh not only seem unworried, but welcome the relative peace and quiet.
"The chemistry is on point," third-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter. "Everyone is on the same page. Everyone is communicating. There's really no — how do you say? — drama in our locker room."
Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in receptions and receiving yards last season and now he's the team's unquestioned No. 1 receiver.
"It's super exciting, but I don't think of it like that," he said about his place on the depth chart. "It's not about a No. 1 guy. Yeah, you have a No. 1 quarterback, a No. 1 running back. But it's a collective game. The only way you move the ball is if all 11 make plays. That's what it's going to take to win the Super Bowl."
Smith-Schuster, who doesn't turn 23 until November, also addressed questions about how things ended with Brown, who took to social media in April to blame Smith-Schuster for fumbling away the win against the Saints late last season.
"At the end of the day, that's his opinion," Smith-Schuster said. "For myself, I stand from afar. I'm not worried about what he's got going on with his team. I wish him nothing but the best. He's a great player. He dominates on the field. I'm worrying about the guys we have here, my teammates and how I can be great on and off the field."
The Steelers have also learned their lesson; after allowing Brown to get away with things other players couldn't, the team appears to proactively keeping Smith-Schuster's feet on the ground.
"We want players to grow into great players — Pro Bowlers, potential Hall of Famers," general manager Kevin Colbert said at the NFL combine, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo. "But what we're learning is it's a different world. Social media has changed things. Branding has changed things. We have to do a better job of managing young players as they grow into mega-stars. We're learning on the fly. But maybe the lesson is we have to catch these guys when they're young."
The Steelers added wide receiver depth in free agency and the draft, signing Donte Moncrief and using a third-round pick on Toldeo's Diontae Johnson. But the success or failure of Pittsburgh's downfield passing attack begins with Smith-Schuster having a big season in a post-Brown world.
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