PITTSBURGH — Though he was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster acknowledged his knee isn’t fully healed.
He wasn’t given a game-status injury designation on the final practice report of the week, but Smith-Schuster said he’s a game-time decision.
“I don’t feel 100 percent, but I’m going to see what I can do,” he said.
When asked directly if he would play, Smith-Schuster put the decision on coach Mike Tomlin.
“I don’t know yet,” Smith-Schuster said. “We’ll see. It depends on what Coach says.”
Without a designation, Smith-Schuster is presumably cleared to play against the New York Jets. Tight end Vance McDonald is also cleared to play after emerging from the concussion protocol.
It will be Smith-Schuster’s first game action since suffering the knee injury, which he characterized as “noncontact,” against the Browns on Nov. 14.
The third-year wide receiver attempted to return for last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills, but aggravated the injury during the first two days of practice.
This week, though, his knee is responding better.
“It’s coming along,” he said. “It’s a process. Taking it slow. The knee is kind of tricky. You don’t really know you’re a full go until you run your full speed, when you’re getting hit, getting tackled. Hopefully I’m able to go this week and play.”
Smith-Schuster returned to running in a straight line a week and a half ago. He was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice before ramping it up in the final practices of the week.
“It feels great,” Smith-Schuster said of being in practice. “It’s been a while. I feel like I’m my usual self, being out there. Being around football means a lot, just for myself, because when I’m not around football, I tend to lose my mind. When I’m out there with the boys, running routes, catching balls, it feels great.”
Though he was vague about his game status, the recipe for him to play Sunday is simple, Smith-Schuster said.
“Don’t go out,” he said. “Don’t go out and party, don’t go out dancing. Just stay home and make sure my knee is good.”