Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been named to the 2019 Pro Bowl, replacing injured teammate Antonio Brown.
Smith-Schuster finished this season ranked second in the AFC and tied for sixth in the NFL with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards, which was third in the AFC and fifth in the NFL. Smith-Schuster was fifth in the AFC and 12th in the NFL with 1,439 yards from scrimmage.
“He is a guy who has been really consistent,” said T.J. Watt. “In the NFL a lot of guys go out and have one good play or one good game. To be able to do it over the course of the season, over the course of his short career is awesome to see.”
Smith-Schuster had eight 100-yard receiving games. He recorded his 150th career reception in his 28th career game and reached the 1,500-yard receiving mark in his 21st career game, both new team records for time to reach the milestones.
“He has had a tremendous year,” said Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. “He is a great player. He does everything well. He’s got the ability to play outside, inside. He is quick, he is fast, and he’s strong with the ball in his hands. Long passes are a problem. Catch and run passes are a problem. He does a great job of going up and getting the ball, taking it away from defenders. He is very athletic, fast, explosive powerful, hard to tackle.”
It’s not often that a second-year player gets his name mentioned with a player who has been talked about as a potential Hall of Famer, but that was just the case when Coach Mike Tomlin compared Smith-Schuster’s blocking ability to that of Hines Ward, who set the standard for blocking for a receiver.
“His attitude regarding his role in the run game,” said Tomlin. “His knowledge and awareness in terms of blocking box defenders. Young guys in terms of declarations, identifying fronts, blocking linebackers at times, blocking support secondary people as needed. Not only does he have the physical attributes to do it, he has the mentality to do it. He has the intelligence to do it.
“He is Hines Ward like in some of those things. I realize what I said when I said that. This guy enjoys it. He embraces it. And I think it helps us. I don’t know that we’ve had a guy that I can even make that loose comparison to.”
The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.