PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers received an unexpected boost on Saturday when they activated JuJu Smith-Schuster off injured reserve ahead of Sunday’s visit to Kansas City.
Smith-Schuster hasn’t played since injuring his right shoulder during a victory over Denver on Oct. 10. He underwent surgery a few days later and was expected to be lost for the season.
Instead, Smith-Schuster returned to practice this week, wearing thicker shoulder pads in an effort to protect his right shoulder. His teammates raved about his conditioning, and his presence gives the seventh-seeded Steelers (9-7-1) a much-needed set of sure hands and — potentially — a physical blocker in the running game as they try to upset the second-seeded Chiefs (12-7) on Sunday night.
Smith-Schuster has 15 receptions for 128 yards this season, becoming a de facto running back of sorts as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s preferred target in an offense heavily reliant on short passes.
To make room for Smith-Schuster on the roster, the Steelers released punter Corliss Waitman, meaning rookie Pressley Harvin III will handle the punting duties at Arrowhead Stadium. Waitman kicked well while filling in for Harvin during a blowout loss in Kansas City last month.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Waitman and Harvin would compete during the week, but ultimately opted to stick with the seventh-round pick who has struggled with consistency all season.
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