Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be getting a big addition to his offense just in time for the playoffs.
On Thursday (January 13), Steelers.com beat reporter Teresa Varley reported Juju Smith-Schuster was designated to return from injured reserve and participated in practice, three days ahead of the Steelers' AFC Wild Card Round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (January 16).
Roethlisberger appeared on the DVE Morning Show Friday (January 14) ahead of Sunday's game, which will either be the last of or extend his NFL career depending on the outcome and provided an optimistic update on Smith-Schuster's status, though refraining from confirming he'd be available.
"I don't have an answer to the possibilities or any of that stuff, yes, he was at practice yesterday, I thought he looked awesome, but it's his body, only he knows how he feels and how it felt," Roethlisberger said. "He had a pretty significant injury and so, you know, the way Juju plays the game is physical, we all know it, we all love it. He could boost this offense and even if it's, like you said, a few plays, it's the encouragement, the energy he brings on the sideline. Anything like that, to have one of your guys out there would be huge for us so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We'll see how he feels today."
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Smith-Schuster was expected to miss the remainder of the 2021 NFL season as he was scheduled to undergo surgery following an MRI on October 10.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver confirmed he underwent a surgical procedure on his injured shoulder in a post thanking fans and supporters on his verified Twitter account October 13.
Smith-Schuster delivered an emotional message to attendees at his foundation's annual Luau on October 11 amid rews of his season-ending shoulder injury.
“I sat there and cried,” Smith-Schuster said in the video shared by the Steelers' verified Twitter account on October 13. “I cried all night. I cried because I love this game so much. More than anyone could know.”
Smith-Schuster's injury occurred after he was tackled by Kareem Jackson on a 3-yard end-around run with 5:47 left in the second quarter of the Steelers' 27-19 win against the Denver Broncos on October 10.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver was seen screaming in pain as team trainers examined his right arm and shoulder on the sideline before taking him to the locker room.
Smith-Schuster had previously experienced bruised ribs after the Steelers' September 27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, ruling him out for the remainder of the game.
The 24-year-old has 15 receptions for 129 yards through his first five games.
Smith-Schuster opted to return to the Steelers as a free agent last March after signing a one-year, $8 million contract, praising the veteran Roethlisberger publicly for restructuring his deal to free up cap space for other moves prior to making his own decision to re-sign.
The Steelers will face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET.