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By: Josh Taylor, KDKA-TV
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Although organized team activities have come and gone and mandatory minicamp has arrived for the Steelers, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, one of the important returning players on offense, has done only limited work in the combined four weeks of offseason workouts.
Smith-Schuster, entering his second season, confirmed Wednesday that he has been sitting out of practice with a knee injury.
“It’s just something that’s been bothering me over time, and it kind of just adds up,” said Smith-Schuster. “It just let me know I need to get this checked out, and I got it checked out.”
Smith-Schuster says he will be ready in time for training camp in July, but in the meantime he’s been watching practice and going over mental repetitions for what he needs to do.
“It is frustrating not being out there with my guys, playing,” he said. “But it’s just how it is. Once I’m able to run out there, put on the pads and be with my guys, it’s like the whole game changes and it’s like I never left.”
In his rookie season, Smith-Schuster was the Steelers’ second-most productive wide receiver, catching 58 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. He said he expects his workload to increase this season after the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders during the draft.
“I want it,” he said. “I love it. This is why I’m here. This is why I love the game, so whatever they put on my shoulders, I’m going to carry it and do what I can do for the team.”
Another change at the wide receiver position is the addition of rookie James Washington, whom the Steelers selected with their second-round draft pick.
“I’m super excited about a guy who kind of has the same body type,” said Smith-Schuster. “He can play inside and out, so I’m super excited to see what he can do.”
The Steelers will hold their final minicamp practice Thursday. Players will report to St. Vincent College in Latrobe for training camp on July 25 and hold their first practice the following day.