PITTSBURGH — When the Steelers went to four wide receiver sets with one tight end on the field in Week 1 JuJu Smith-Schuster filled the “halfback” position, Ben Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show.
Smith-Schuster never lined up in the backfield, but during practice for the Minnesota Vikings, he said, he did.
The second-round draft pick fills the fourth receiving option or “F” position in the offense when he does and the point of his taking the field over Le’Veon Bell is to both spread out opposing defenses and get a second, bigger slot receiver on the field opposite the smaller Eli Rogers.
Four-wide receiver sets sparked Pittsburgh’s offense against the Browns. If the Steelers run into or simply anticipate similar problems against Minnesota, expect Smith-Schuster to be a back again — nominally or alongside Roethlisberger.
Two other things to know for Sunday’s 1 p.m. kickoff at Heinz Field
1. Mike Hilton stays
As the starting slot corner. Hilton said his absence in much of the second half against the Browns last week was due to cramping. He covered punts and blocked for them, then played much of every defensive series – nickel is the new base, he said, laughing – which eventually led to him locking up and William Gay replacing him.
Gay played as the team’s sixth defensive back in “dime” packages, coming in for Vince Williams.
Hilton and Gay remain interchangeable, Hilton said, but the practice squad graduate remains the Steelers’ preference. On Sunday that means matching up with Stefon Diggs, who will also move outside.
2. The truest press man test yet is…
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