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Steelers JuJu Smith-Schuster: ‘I’m still going to make those blocks’

December 14, 2017 GMT

JuJu Smith-Schuster was back in the Steelers’ locker room Wednesday, his one-game suspension for his block on Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict served during Sunday night’s Steelers win against Baltimore.

And while the 21-year-old rookie was apologetic for the taunting aspect of the hit, Smith-Schuster vowed “I felt like it was a good (legal) hit.”

Smith-Schuster also said the suspension would not cause him to change his game.

“Oh, I am still playing physical,” he said. “That’s going to be a part of my game. That’s who I have always been since I was a kid.

“I am still going to make those blocks, you know? Yes, I am going you be more careful; I’m going to aim for the shoulder and lower, just to be more protective of the game.”

Smith-Schuster said he wasn’t aware that the hit was on the volatile and polarizing Burfict, who has a long history of animosity with the Steelers.

“It was just like, ‘OK, this is a Bengals player, let me go and make this block for Le’Veon (Bell),’” Smith-Schuster said. “I stood over him after and I said, ‘Oh wow, that’s Burfict,’ and I was like ‘Oh damn,’ so that’s when I relaxed ‘Aw, man, here we go. This is it.’”

Smith-Schuster will face the New England Patriots for the first time in his career Sunday at Heinz Field.

Watching the Ravens game

Smith-Schuster made the best of a bad situation and had some fun on social media Sunday night.

But the gregarious receiver wasn’t just having a staged photo-op when he posted images of himself wearing a helmet while watching his Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens. Smith-Schuster maintains he kept it on throughout the Steelers’ eventual 39-38, division-clinching victory.

Well, not completely throughout.

“When we went to commercial I took it off. (And) when I went to eat,” Smith-Schuster said Wednesday after serving his one-game suspension for a hard block in the prior week’s game. “When I went to the bathroom, I took it off. So I didn’t keep it on the whole game.”

Smith-Schuster was suspended for the first time in his career.

“It was tough being home and not being out here with my guys, my teammates,” Smith-Schuster said. “I kept the helmet on just to stay locked in and focused on the game. But I should never do that (taunting, which contributed to his suspension) again.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.