The Pittsburgh Steelers could be receiving some receiving reinforcements for the postseason.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was designated to return from injured reserve and returned to practice Thursday, the team announced. The move comes roughly three months after Smith-Schuster was placed on IR after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Pittsburgh also announced that fellow receiver James Washington was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of Sunday's wild-card clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The surprise roster decision means Smith-Schuster could be activated off IR for the playoffs, right in time to give Ben Roethlisberger an extra pass-catcher in what is, barring an upset, expected to be his final NFL game. Smith-Schuster had 15 receptions on 28 targets for 129 yards through five games this season before his injury.
NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti reported that Smith-Schuster has a chance to play depending how he feels following his practice return. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin labeled JuJu's return to the field Thursday as "a start," per ESPN.com
Pittsburgh's leading receiver in 2018 and 2020, Smith-Schuster saw the likes of Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth lead the team this year while he waited out the season on the sideline.
If Smith-Schuster, who is entering free agency in 2022 after returning to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal in 2021, is to play in one more game for the Steelers, he'll need to be activated by Saturday afternoon.