Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster expects to be focus of Patriots’ gameplan
Since Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders in March, the Pittsburgh Steelers have faced endless questions about how the offense will fare without the All-Pro wide receiver.
The answer will become clearer Sunday night when the Steelers open at defending Super Bowl champion New England.
“Turn on the TV and watch,” wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said Thursday. “That’s all I can say.”
The Steelers added veteran free agent Donte Moncrief, drafted Diontae Johnson and are expecting James Washington to take on a bigger role. Yet, Smith-Schuster is the receiver expected to get the double teams that Brown constantly faced.
After all, in Brown’s final season with the Steelers, it was Smith-Schuster who led the team with 111 catches and 1,426 en route to a Pro Bowl appearance in his second NFL season.
Smith-Schuster expects Patriots coach Bill Belichick to devise a scheme designed to shut him down.
“I won’t be surprised if he doubles me,” Smith-Schuster said. “I’m very confident in my guys going out there and making plays in one-on-one coverage.”
The Patriots’ top cornerback is Stephon Gilmore, who was named first-team All-Pro in 2018. Smith-Schuster could see a lot of Gilmore on Sunday night.
“In past history, Gilmore usually is on their best receiver,” Smith-Schuster said. “He’s a vet, a tough guy, great player. If I have an opportunity to go against him, it would be amazing.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .