Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster returned to practice Thursday ahead of the team's NFL playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Smith-Schuster remains on injured reserve, though, so his status for the contest is unclear. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the wideout is "healthy enough to play" but the team currently does not plan on him playing this weekend.
The 2018 Pro Bowler hasn't suited up since a 27-19 victory over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 10.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Oct. 11 that Smith-Schuster had suffered a dislocated shoulder in that game and would be out for around four months after undergoing surgery. It appeared his 2021 season was essentially over.
With Thursday's news, the Steelers have 21 days to add Smith-Schuster to the active roster, or he'll revert back to injured reserve.
The 25-year-old has seen his stock dip in recent seasons. He caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. Between 2019 and 2020, though, he had 139 receptions, 1,383 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The trend was continuing into 2021, with Smith-Schuster on pace (15 receptions, 129 yards in five games) to set career lows.
But Pittsburgh needs all the help it can get in the wild-card round. The Steelers are 12.5-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook.
It's probably not a coincidence that Ben Roethlisberger's two worst months this season in terms of passing yardage were December (212.8) and January (183.5). Having Smith-Schuster available again would at least give the 39-year-old Roethlisberger another option in the passing game.
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