Ben Roethlisberger on JuJu Smith-Schuster injury: I’m hurt because I miss that guy

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Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster is out for the season with a shoulder injury, which means quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has one fewer receiver to target in 2021.

Smith-Schuster has been one of the Steelers’ key receivers since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2017. He signed a one-year deal to return to Pittsburgh in the offseason and had caught 15 passes for 129 yards before suffering the injury on Sunday.

Roethlisberger told reporters on Wednesday just how difficult it is personally and professionally to see Smith-Schuster go down.

“It’s awful,” Roethlisberger said, via Matt Freed of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “And I’ll speak selfishly, I’m hurt because I miss that guy. I mean, what he brings to this team — his energy, his excitement, the leadership. It sucks, it really does. And I’m not even the one hurt. I spoke to him on Sunday night, I felt his pain through the phone, speaking to his mom as well. It’s just sometimes things aren’t fair and we don’t know why they happen. And a guy that has given so much and a guy that means so much to this team and to me specifically, it’s not fair.”

The Steelers still have plenty of options at receiver, like Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. And rookie Najee Harris is emerging at running back. But it’s clear Roethlisberger will miss having Smith-Schuster around as an option.