NFL Decides on Punishment for Hit on Ex-Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster concussed

David Eulitt/Getty Images JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Kansas City Chiefs is attended to after suffering a head injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 13, 2022.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will not play when Patrick Mahomes and the rest of his teammates go against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Smith-Schuster was officially ruled out on Friday, having not practiced all week in the wake of a concussion he suffered on a controversial hit from Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco on Nov. 13.


Jaguars’ Andre Cisco Fined for Hit on JuJu Smith-Schuster

On Saturday the NFL fined Cisco $6,612 for unnecessary roughness, this according to reports by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

That’s a an indication that the league believes that Cisco should have been penalized for the hit, a sentiment shared by the Chiefs, who were upset that the officials picked up the flag that was thrown on the play.

After the Jaguars-Chiefs game, referee Brad Rogers said officials determined “that the defender had set and braced for impact and hit shoulder into shoulder (and) they didn’t feel it was a use of helmet foul.”

Never mind that Smith-Schuster was in a defenseless position at the time he made the catch.

“He was in a defenseless posture, but they didn’t feel there was any use of helmet foul on that,” added Rogers, as indicated by an interview conducted by PFWA pool reporter Adam Telcher in the immediate aftermath of the game.

The earliest that Smith-Schuster can return is Week 12 when the Chiefs host the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

The former Steelers 2nd-round pick (2017), is playing on a one-year contract with the Chiefs. Thus far this season he has 46 receptions on 64 targets for 615 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference (PFR). He will become an unrestricted for the third consecutive season in 2023. He had 323 catches for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns as a member of the Steelers (2017-21) and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018.

JuJu Smith-Schuster still counts against Pittsburgh’s salary cap, however. As noted by overthecap.com, he carries the 2nd-largest dead money cap hit for the Steelers ($5.6 million), with former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the highest at $10.34 million. All together, 19 former Steelers players count $34,822,876 against the team’s 2022 salary cap.


The Bengals Will Try a New Punter

In other news, the Bengals will have a new punter when they take on the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday. On Nov. 19, Cincinnati elected to promote Drue Chrisman from the practice squad to replace left-footer Kevin Huber, as indicated by Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic.

Chrisman — a right-footed punter out of Ohio State who briefly spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in December 2021 — will be making his NFL debut. As I noted at that time, Chrisman has an “unusual, if not especially useful, off-the-field talent.”

That said, it seems the Steelers needn’t have bothered to work out left-footed punter Brock Miller, who was brought in last week so Pittsburgh’s punt returners could get accustomed to catching punts from a lefty.

As for Huber, he has been Cincinnati’s punter for 14 years. He has averaged 43.2 yards per punt on 31 kicks this season, as per PFR, this as compared to his 45.3 yard career average.

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