James Washington vs. Pat Freiermuth: Who Will Step Up With JuJu Smith-Schuster Out for Season?

JuJu Smith-Schuster is done for the year with a shoulder injury.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is done for the year with a shoulder injury. / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally looked to be figuring things out on offense against the Denver Broncos in Week 5, but they lost a key piece in the process.

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a shoulder injury against Denver that will keep him out for the rest of the season.

This is a major blow to the Steelers offense, as it leaves them with James Washington, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as the team’s primary options at receiver.

The Steelers are 2-3 this season after opening the year with an 8.5-win projection on WynnBET, but they’ll need certain players to step up if they want to hit the over on that number. 

Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool Will Have Expanded Roles

One could argue that Johnson and Claypool were already ahead of Smith-Schuster in the pecking order in Pittsburgh’s offense, and they showed it by combining for 202 yards and two scores in Week 5. 

Claypool may be the biggest beneficiary, as he could move into the slot (as FanSided’s Tommy Jaggi pointed out) but the Steelers will undoubtedly run their passing offense through these two targets until further notice.

Claypool and Johnson have both missed games this season due to injury, so Pittsburgh will need to hope they stay healthy to keep this offense somewhat intact.

James Washington vs. Pat Freiermuth: Who Will See More Looks?

Freiermuth, the team’s rookie tight end, has made 11 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown on his 13 targets this season. 

While he does not possess the same skill set as Smith-Schuster, he could be a short yardage option in the middle of the field that the team relies on. 

As for Washington, the fourth-year wideout has seen 13 targets this year, but did not get a look against Denver. 

He was coming off of a four-catch game against the Green Bay Packers with Claypool out, and he made three grabs the week before with Johnson out. 

Washington can stretch the field, and he’s one of the better reserve wideouts in the NFL. 

He has way more upside than the rookie Freiermuth, but both should play a bigger role in the Steelers’ passing attack going forward.

WynnBET Promo: Bet $1, Win $100 if any NFL or college football team scores. Claim your offer now.