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JuJu honored for another 'special' effort

Posted Jan 3, 2018

JuJu Smith-Schuster won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to work that magic that has been his rookie season, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Smith-Schuster was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the Steelers win over the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on Sunday.

The Browns had just tied the game, 21-21, in the second half when Smith-Schuster took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, giving the Steelers a lead they would never lose in the 28-24 win.

It was his first kickoff return for a touchdown in the NFL and the first kickoff returned for a touchdown by the Steelers since Antonio Brown did so his rookie year when he took one 89 yards in a win over the Titans.  

“Oh wow, Antonio Brown. Was that his rookie year? Wow, that’s crazy,” said Smith-Schuster. “I’m glad to be there with Antonio Brown. But with that play, coach said we call it a bounce right. We went to the right. Obviously, it was right return. Fitzgerald Toussaint said no matter what I want you to take the ball. I took the ball. I kind of set it up. I thought I was going to the left, but I came back to the right. Those guys did a great job blocking. I was thinking dang, this is what it is like to go against a kicker. Hold on let me try to cut back in, so I cut back in. I saw another guy, a safety came in, and I just stiff-armed him and ran in to score.”

Smith-Schuster, who won the Steelers rookie of the year honor, also led the Steelers with nine receptions for 143 yards (15.9-yard average) and had a 20-yard touchdown reception.

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“I wish everybody had a JuJu in their life,” said Alejandro Villanueva. “He’s a very fun person to be around, great personality, works extremely hard, loves football. I have never met a personality like that, and for me, teaching him how to drive and everything, I really fell in love with the kid. He’s awesome to be around and I’m very glad we have him on the team.”

Smith-Schuster was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week earlier this year for his performance against the Detroit Lions, the first time a Steelers’ rookie earned the honor since Ben Roethlisberger did so in 2004.