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Smith-Schuster shoulder surgery being disputed, 2021 season still in jeopardy

The Steelers wide receiver’s season is over after just five weeks.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who has been battling injuries since the start of the regular season. Despite having a healthy four-game preseason, the Steelers have been bit by the injury bug since the games started to count.

Numerous soft tissue injuries, mainly groin injuries, have dominated the injury reports, but the shoulder injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster in Week 5 have been the most severe. In the win over the Denver Broncos Smith-Schuster was hit in the shoulder and immediately began to show signs of pain.

As medial personnel tended to Smith-Schuster, it became apparent this wasn’t just another shoulder injury. After the game Mike Tomlin said Smith-Schuster was being evaluated at a local hospital, pointing directly to the severity of the injury. After reports Monday of the team planning on putting Smith-Schuster on Injured Reserve (IR), it is now being reported Smith-Schuster underwent surgery on the shoulder, and will miss the rest of the season.

This per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:

This news means Smith-Schuster will indeed be placed on IR, but without any expectation of his return. The Steelers will likely fill his roster spot with either Zach Banner (knee) or Anthony McFarland (unknown), both who are eligible to come off IR at any time.

As for the wide receiver depth, the Steelers are fortunate this is one of their deepest position groups on the team. If the team can get James Washington, who missed Week 5 with a groin injury, back on the field, they likely will be just fine moving forward. However, it puts an extra onus on the health of the group moving forward.

Smith-Schuster hadn’t had a great season prior to being injured Sunday. In fact, he was only able to muster the following stats throughout the regular season:

Games: 5
Yards: 129
Receptions: 15
TD: 0

With Smith-Schuster set to be a free agent after this season, you have to wonder if he has worn a black and gold jersey for the last time.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they make Smith-Schuster’s move to IR official, and prepare for the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6.


It is now being reported by Brooke Pryor of ESPN Smith-Schuster did NOT undergo surgery, but could still be out for the season.


Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Smith-Schuster suffered a separated shoulder, and could miss up to four months. The injury will require surgery this week. This would likely end his season.

For more on on the Smith-Schuster situation and the Steelers options moving forward, check out the BTSC Breaking News podcast below.