The Pittsburgh Steelers may be getting a much-needed boost at the wide receiver position just in time for the playoffs.
Juju Smith-Schuster was designated to return from injured reserve and participated in practice on Thursday (January 13), three days ahead of the Steelers' AFC Wild Card Round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (January 16), according Steelers.com beat reporter Teresa Varley.
The former Pro Bowler is still listed on the Reserve/Injured List and Pittsburgh will have a 21-day window to activate him to its 53-man roster, or he will remain on the list throughout the remainder of the postseason should the team advance.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Smith-Schuster was expected to miss the remainder of the 2021 NFL season as he was scheduled to undergo surgery following an MRI on October 10.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver confirmed he underwent a surgical procedure on his injured shoulder in a post thanking fans and supporters on his verified Twitter account October 13.
Smith-Schuster delivered an emotional message to attendees at his foundation's annual Luau on October 11 amid news of his season-ending shoulder injury.
“I sat there and cried,” Smith-Schuster said in the video shared by the Steelers' verified Twitter account on October 13. “I cried all night. I cried because I love this game so much. More than anyone could know.”
Smith-Schuster's injury occurred after he was tackled by Kareem Jackson on a 3-yard end-around run with 5:47 left in the second quarter of the Steelers' 27-19 win against the Denver Broncos on October 10.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver was seen screaming in pain as team trainers examined his right arm and shoulder on the sideline before taking him to the locker room.
Smith-Schuster had previously experienced bruised ribs after the Steelers' September 27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, ruling him out for the remainder of the game.
The 24-year-old has 15 receptions for 129 yards through his first five games.
Smith-Schuster opted to return to the Steelers as a free agent last March after signing a one-year, $8 million contract, praising the veteran Roethlisberger publicly for restructuring his deal to free up cap space for other moves prior to making his own decision to re-sign.
The Steelers will face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET.