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The more the merrier

Posted May 19, 2017

Steelers hope competition catches on at wide receiver.

Martavis Bryant was conditionally reinstated from suspension two days before the NFL Draft, but the Steelers went ahead and selected a wide receiver on the second round, anyway.

“We don’t want anybody getting too comfortable,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said in a recent one-on-one interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com. “I think it’s great to have competition. It’s something we believe in here in Pittsburgh a bunch.

“We obviously didn’t accomplish all of our goals last year. Wide receiver was an area we know we can be better.”

All-Pro Antonio Brown probably doesn't have to worry about looking over his shoulder.

But the arrival of JuJu Smith-Schuster, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound, multi-dimensional wide receiver from USC, ought to have everyone else’s attention at the position, slot and outside receivers alike.

>>>READ: Smith-Schuster signed to a four-year deal

“He’s a versatile guy,” Haley said. “He’s played all their wide receiver positions at USC. He’s young, the youngest in the draft, which we’ve had great success with here the last few years, having young guys that are moldable, so to speak.

“He’s a tough guy. He has good size, he can run and he was playing at an elite level of competition. He’s a guy we’re excited to bring in here and put into the mix and develop him to a position where, hopefully, he helps us.”

Smith-Schuster wasn’t draft to lead the band at halftime.

“The more competent guys you have in that (wide receiver) room, out on the field competing against each other, you usually have a chance to get everybody to play to the best of their ability,” Haley said.

Smith-Schuster won’t be asked to play slot and outside receiver immediately, but the Steelers will gradually put as much on his plate as he’s able to consume.

They’ll know when Smith-Schuster needs to be fed.

It’ll be up to Smith-Schuster to show the Steelers he’s hungry for more.

“You want him learning one position first and they’ll kind of guide us as far as being able to do more,” Haley said. “You’ll know the guys who are pretty comfortable. Not only from how they practice and looking like they know what to do and how to do it, but they’re also usually the guys knocking at (wide receivers) coach (Richard) Mann’s door saying, ‘Hey, can I look at this position or get some reps at that?’”