FOXBORO, Mass. — Juju Smith-Schuster is replacing Antonio Brown as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1 receiver this season, but that doesn’t necessarily make him one of the best wideouts in the NFL, according to New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson.
Jackson was asked Thursday if covering “one of the best wide receivers in the NFL,” and limiting Smith-Schuster to four catches on nine targets for 40 yards, raised his confidence last season.
Jackson misheard the reporter, and asked: “Who was the best receiver in the NFL?”
“Juju,” the reporter answered.
“You think he’s the best receiver in the NFL?” Jackson asked.
“One of,” the reporter responded.
Jackson then made a face.
“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I just did what the coaches ask me to do. That was really it. Going into your second year, of course, you played a lot of football last year, my rookie year. It’s just a natural habit. You just feel more confident in going into Year 2.”
A different reporter went back to the Juju question, asking Jackson if he believes Smith-Schuster is one of the best receivers in the NFL.
“In my opinion, I don’t think so,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of good receivers in the NFL.”
Maybe Jackson was just being modest. He eventually did praise the Steelers receiver.
“He’s a great receiver. I’m not saying that (he’s not),” Jackson said. “He’s good. He’s a good football player. He made a lot of plays. …
“He’s physical, he’s a good route runner and he has strong hands.”
It’s unclear if Jackson, Stephon Gilmore or someone else will shadow Smith-Schuster on Sunday night when the Patriots take on the Steelers in Week 1. It was Jackson last season, and he did a fantastic job. But with Brown gone, perhaps those duties will transfer to Gilmore.
Thumbnail photo via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images