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Ben: 'You can't replace JuJu'

Ben Roethlisberger said it in as simple of terms as he could.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster out with a shoulder injury, Roethlisberger was asked how you can replace one of his most dynamic receivers.

"You can't replace JuJu," said Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger said he feels horrible for Smith-Schuster, who suffered a shoulder injury in the win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Sunday.

"It's awful," said Roethlisberger. "I'll speak selfishly, I'm hurt. I miss that guy, what he brings to this team, his energy, his excitement, the leadership. It sucks. It really does. And I'm not the one hurt. I spoke to him on Sunday night, and I felt his pain through the phone, speaking to his mom as well.

"It's just sometimes things aren't fair, and we don't know why they happen. A guy that's given so much, means so much to this team and to me specifically.

"It's not fair."

While you can't replace him, the other receivers will definitely have to step up in his absence, with this being a big opportunity for guys like James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud and Cody White to get more balls thrown their way.

"Lots of big opportunities for Ray-Ray, for James. Cody is going to get his shot I'm sure," said Roethlisberger. "We need guys, because it seems like every week one of the guys have been down for something. Moving forward now without JuJu, we're going to need everyone to be healthy as much as they can be every week. I think James is excited for the opportunity. I think Ray-Ray is as well.

"We're going to have to utilize a lot of people."

Roethlisberger said you have to be cautious about who you have play inside with Smith-Schuster out, not wanting to throw someone there that will take away a strength elsewhere, such as Chase Claypool who can provide a threat with the deep ball outside.

"Playing the slot position in the NFL is different than playing outside," said Roethlisberger. "It's just a different animal. I think we have a lot of guys that can do it, but it's a feel thing. You don't want to take away a big body outside that's got special skills. I think you'll see some more utilization of the tight ends and running backs in there, and different guys."

Another player who could get more passes coming his way is tight end Pat Freiermuth. The rookie has been a steady weapon for Roethlisberger, with 11 receptions for 100 yards, a 9.1-yard average. But his quarterback wants to get him even more involved.

"I think he's doing a really good job, and I probably need to be better getting him involved more because I trust him," said Roethlisberger. "He's in the right spot. I think he had a couple big third down catches last week. It's on me to get him more involved. I need to start making a more conscious effort to do that."