Smith-Schuster will participate only in individual drills during minicamp due to a left knee issue, but said he will be healthy for the start of training camp, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.
Coming off an impressive season in which he nabbed 58 of 79 targets for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, Smith-Schuster enters his sophomore campaign firmly entrenched as a starter. He started his career with a limited role behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, but overtook Bryant in the pecking order. Bryant has since been shipped to the Raiders to clear any potential roadblocks. The Steelers did draft James Washington in the second round to provide an additional target for Ben Roethlisberger, but Brown and Smith-Schuster figure to get the most looks.
Smith-Schuster told Yahoo's Tank Williams that the departure of Martavis Bryant will give the second-year wideout a better opportunity to show what he's capable of.
Smith-Schuster and Bryant essentially operated as co-No. 2 receivers last season, with the former producing far more efficiently while the latter actually held an 84-80 advantage in targets. The 2017 second-round pick's quick development made Bryant expendable, with the Steelers ultimately trading him for a third-round pick in the recently completed draft. The team did use a second-round selection on wideout James Washington, but he shouldn't be an immediate threat to Smith-Schuster's playing time or target volume. Coming off a rookie season in which he caught 58 of 80 targets for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, the USC product is a strong bet to reach triple digits in the target column during his sophomore campaign, potentially even threatening Le'Veon Bell's status as the No. 2 pass-game option in Pittsburgh. Bell finished second on the team in receptions and targets in 2014, 2016 and 2017, trailing Antonio Brown each time.
Smith-Schuster had nine receptions (on 10 targets) for 143 yards and a touchdown, and added a 96-yard kickoff return for another score, in Sunday's 28-24 win over the Browns. He finished the 2017 season with 58 catches (on 80 targets) for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, and added 240 yards and the touchdown on nine kick returns in 14 games.
Smith-Schuster was clearly Landry Jones' favorite receiver, and the rookie took advantage of the opportunity and the absence of Antonio Brown (lower leg). The first Steelers player with a receiving touchdown and a kick return touchdown in the same game since Gary Ballman in 1963, Smith-Schuster gives the team another weapon in an already potent arsenal.
Smith-Schuster led his team with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown on seven targets in Monday's 34-6 win over the Texans.
Smith-Schuster was quiet for most of this one, but came up with a 49-yard grab and an 18-yard touchdown on one drive in the fourth quarter to make fantasy owners happy. He and Martavis Bryant should continue to see added attention from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger while Antonio Brown (calf) heals. With Pittsburgh needing a win and a New England loss next week to secure home-field advantage, expect big things from Smith-Schuster against the hapless Browns.
Smith-Schuster will take on an expanded role over the final two weeks of the regular season with Antonio Brown (calf) out of the lineup, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reports.
Smith-Schuster has been efficient but also inconsistent, producing 11.1 yards per target while recording three games with 97 or more receiving yards and five games with less than 40 yards. He should be more dependable with Brown on the sideline, likely drawing at least a handful of targets for a sixth straight game when the Steelers face a lifeless Houston defense Monday. The Texans have allowed opposing wideouts to post a 62.4-percent catch rate and 9.4 yards per target, with one out of every 15.6 targets going for a touchdown. A few teams have given up more total fantasy points to wide receivers, but none has allowed such efficient production on a per-target basis.