NFL.com contributing columnist Adam Schein predicts that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster “will dominate once again,” much like he did in 2018 when he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Smith-Schuster was dreadful last season,” begins Schein, “totaling just 552 yards and three touchdowns,” before going on to note that “JuJu fizzled in the spotlight of replacing Antonio Brown as the Steelers’ WR1.”
But Schein remains “enamored” with Smith-Schuster’s “amazing talent and work ethic,” and reminds us that JuJu is still just 23 years old. He also factors in Ben Roethlisberger’s return from elbow surgery, and the fact that Smith-Schuster is in a contract year.
Strangely, Schein doesn’t sound optimistic about Roethlisberger remaining healthy for 16 games, nor does he think much of the Steelers’ second- and third-string quarterbacks, Mason Rudolph and Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges.
Nevertheless, “there is no denying the chemistry the first-ballot Hall of Famer has with JuJu,” Schein said.
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Chris Simms: Steelers’ Defense is Super Bowl Caliber
Meanwhile, another NFL insider, Chris Simms, recently opined about the Steelers’ outlook for 2020, calling the team’s defense a “Super Bowl caliber” unit.
“Now they lost Javon Hargrave in free agency, that’s really the big loss, right?” Simms said. “Other than that you look at the team and go, man, everybody else is pretty much back.”
Not only that, defensive end Stephon Tuitt returns from injury. Simms says Tuitt “might be the most talented defensive lineman on their team, and that’s saying a lot, because we know they have Cam Heyward.”
Also, this will be safety Minkah Fitzpatrick’s first full season with the club, having been acquired in a mid-season trade with the Miami Dolphins last September. Then there’s inside linebacker Devin Bush, one of two Steelers that Pro Football Focus recently identified as ‘breakout’ candidates for 2020. Never mind the presence of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree on either edge, both of whom registered double-digit sack totals in 2019.
“This is a really good defense. This is a defense that can win games almost by itself,” Simms concluded.
Another Watt Expected in Pittsburgh by 2021
In other news, Steelers fullback Derek Watt took to Twitter on Sunday to say that he and his wife are expecting their second child in December 2020, writing “Logan Can’t Wait To Be A Big Brother!”
It was just a little more than two months ago that Derek Watt joined his brother T.J. in Pittsburgh, signing a three-year contract in free agency.
Then on April 28 the team announced that it was picking up the fifth-year option on his brother’s contract.
T.J. Watt is coming off a season in which he was named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates. He was also a finalist for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first NFL player since 2008 to have at least 14 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hits, eight forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in a season, this in addition to his two interceptions.
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