JuJu Smith-Schuster lit the Detroit Lions on fire Sunday night, dashing for 193 yards on seven receptions, including a 97-yard touchdown catch-and-run that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers enough punch to secure the 20-15 road win.
The Steelers were all aglow about the young rookie, who is not yet 21 years old.
"He's special," David DeCastro said. "He has a great attitude, great skills, especially for a rookie."
"Big-time player, great performer," receiver Antonio Brown said. "He stepped up big. Huge play. Biggest play in history."
While Pittsburgh insists it has no plans to move the receiver, Bryant's future with the Steelers remains hazy ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline.
Coach Mike Tomlin responded succinctly when asked about the receiver Sunday night:
On the decision to make Bryant inactive:
Tomlin: "I outlined that pretty crystal clear on Tuesday and I'm done talking about that. I am."
Reporter: You haven't talked about it since you made your decision though...
Tomlin: "I know."
Reporter: You are not going to?
Reporter: You are confident he will help you down the stretch?
Tomlin: "I'm not. We'll see."
Perhaps Smith-Schuster's big day allows the Steelers to believe they can comfortably move on from the Bryant distraction without losing much on the field.
JuJu's breakout, however, masked a still-struggling Steelers offense that needs all the playmakers it has. Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey are low-level replacements at receiver. The duo combined for seven yards on one catch -- Ben Roethlisberger missed DHB on a would-be touchdown as well.
A Pittsburgh offense that has been overly reliant on Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell this season might have found its third weapon in Smith-Schuster. However, unless Tomlin is truly sick of Bryant's antics or someone makes a convincing trade offer for a suspension-prone receiver, it would behoove the playoff-bound Steelers to keep all the offensive talent they can compile. Despite the headaches he's provided, Bryant is still an athletic mismatch and a needed red-zone weapon.
There is plenty of season left for Brown, JuJu and Bryant to all play significant roles in a heretofore disappointing Steelers offense that is 6-2 despite still trying to find its groove.