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Steelers Open 21-Day Window for WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to Return From IR

Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster returned to practice on Thursday after the team designated the wide receiver to return from the injured reserve. 

Pittsburgh now has 21 days to activate him to the active roster, with coach Mike Tomlin saying that Thursday's update is a “start” in his return, which could possibly come on Sunday vs. the Chiefs.

Smith-Schuster was placed on injured reserve in mid-October after suffering a shoulder injury following a collision with a Broncos defensive back in Week 5. 

He underwent surgery and was initially expected to miss the rest of the season.

Speaking with ESPN last month, however, he said there was a chance he could return during the postseason.

“AFC championship or the Super Bowl,” Smith-Schuster said Dec. 7 when asked if and when he could return, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "Either one works for me.

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"There's a percentage that I could possibly come back and participate in [the AFC championship]. That's where I'm at right now. I'm rehabbing as much as possible every day, just trying to get after it. You just never know."

NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti reported that Smith-Schuster has a chance to play depending how he feels following his practice return. 

The 24-year-old signed a one-year, $8 million contract last offseason to return to Pittsburgh. He had 15 receptions on 28 targets for 129 yards through five games this season before his injury.

In other Steelers receiver news, wideout James Washington was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, after being place on the list Jan. 8

Pittsburgh snuck into the playoffs after defeating Baltimore on Sunday, clinching a wild-card spot with the Raiders' overtime win against the Chargers. 

The Steelers will play the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday night. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. ET.

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