The New England Patriots provided some bulletin board material for the Pittsburgh Steelers ahead of Sunday night's Week 1 game at Gillette Stadium.
Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson was asked Thursday by reporters about Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and he doesn't rank the 22-year-old among the NFL's best wideouts.
“He’s a good football player, made a lot of plays.”— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) September 5, 2019
Jackson then said Smith-Schuster is physical, runs good routes and has strong hands.
JC Jackson doesn’t seem to think Juju Smith-Schuster is one of the best receivers in the game, rolling his eyes when initially asked. So I asked again. “I don’t think so. There’s a lot of good receivers in the NFL.” To be fair, a question later, Jackson called Juju “great.”— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 5, 2019
Jackson's take is a rare moment of candor from a Patriots player ahead of a meaningful game. It's usually the Steelers talking trash or making bulletin board material-type comments when these teams are getting ready to square off.
Smith-Schuster, to his credit, enjoyed a fantastic sophomore season in 2018 with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards (fifth-most in the league) and seven touchdowns. The Patriots did do a good job keeping him in check during a Week 15 loss last season. Smith-Schuster tallied just four receptions for 40 yards and zero touchdowns in Pittsburgh's 17-10 win over the Pats.
The spotlight will be on Smith-Schuster all season with All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown no longer the No. 1 target in the Steelers passing attack. Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders in March, and now Smith-Schuster likely will be matched up against the opposing team's best cornerback each week. It'll be a challenge for the young wide receiver, but based on his first two pro seasons, he has more than enough talent to take his performance to another level.
And, in the likely event Smith-Schuster sees these comments from Jackson, you can bet the Steelers star will be highly motivated to make a statement against the defending Super Bowl champions on "Sunday Night Football".
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.