Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger 'proud' of JuJu Smith-Schuster's selflessness

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn't sure what kind of scene he was going to see when he walked into the locker room Sunday afternoon.

Sure, the Steelers were 4-0 after holding off the Philadelphia Eagles, but that was largely thanks to a rookie: Chase Claypool.

Claypool had four touchdowns and seven receptions for 110 yards, but the rest of Roethlisberger's receivers had a quiet afternoon.

That could cause division and hurt feelings in some locker rooms -- even in this very locker room not so long ago.

But not this time.

"I wasn't sure what the demeanor was going to be from the other receivers, to be perfectly honest," Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "Because obviously Chase had an amazing day. I looked over at JuJu [Smith-Schuster] to kind of see what his reaction would be, because he's our No. 1 receiver. I looked over at him and he had the biggest smile on his face.

"And it's not because Chase was right there with him. Chase wasn't even next to him. He had the biggest smile. He was having fun with other guys."

Smith-Schuster had just four catches on five targets for 28 yards, a relatively insignificant game for the top target. But that didn't affect his mood afterward.

That impressed Roethlisberger.

"I just can't say enough about him and what that meant to me, what it meant to other guys and how proud we are of him that he truly was happy for Chase," Roethlisberger said. "He was happy we won the game. Did he have huge stats, JuJu? No, but we won the game and that's all that matters.

"I think for a No. 1 receiver to feel that way in a locker room, I told my wife about it, I told my closest friends about it. That just made me really proud and really happy that we have selfless guys on this team that are more about the win than they are trying to get their stats."

Seeing that attitude from Smith-Schuster is especially important in a season in which coach Mike Tomlin stressed the collective strength of the receiving room as one of the best things about his team. There very well may be more afternoons where Smith-Schuster isn't leading his team in receiving.

Through four games, Smith-Schuster has only led the team in receiving yards once, coming in the Week 1 win against the Giants when he had six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. But he wasn't even the top targeted receiver that week. That was Diontae Johnson, who had 10 targets.

The next week, Johnson led with 92 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions and 13 targets. Smith-Schuster had half the production with seven catches on eight targets for 48 yards. And against the Texans, Smith-Schuster was third in receptions with four behind Ebron and James Washington, but second in receiving yards with 43 and a touchdown.

"The strength of our pack is the pack," Tomlin said after Sunday's win. "And to have quality depth in guys that are capable of making plays."