By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Uh-oh, ladies and gentlemen. It appears as though we all might have some … bulletin-board material!
Of course, a cardinal sin in sports is to provide the opposing team with bulletin-board material, but it appears as though second-year Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson may have just provided some for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ahead of the two teams clashing on Sunday night in Foxboro.
Jackson, who had a successful rookie season last year after signing with New England as an undrafted free agent, was asked by reporters if he believes Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is among the very best wide receivers in the NFL.
“In my opinion, I don’t think so,” Jackson replied, according to MassLive’s Andrew Callahan. “There’s a lot of good receivers in the NFL, you know?”
“In my opinion, I don’t think so. There’s a lot of good receivers in the NFL, you know?”
He added, “I mean, he’s a great receiver. I’m not saying (he’s not).” pic.twitter.com/J7vV45p9CX
— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) September 5, 2019
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi noted that there was an eye roll from Jackson when he heard the question.
JC Jackson doesn’t seem to think Juju Smith-Schuster is one of the best receivers in the game, rolling his eyes when initially asked. So I asked again. “I don’t think so. There’s a lot of good receivers in the NFL.” To be fair, a question later, Jackson called Juju “great.”
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 5, 2019
Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire noted that there was a little bit more backtracking from Jackson …
J.C. Jackson said that he doesn’t think JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the best receivers in the league. He backtracked slightly, saying JuJu is “great” and “makes plays.” pic.twitter.com/yo2bWjIyil
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) September 5, 2019
… but that’s clearly too little too late.
The first tweet is already pinned to a bulletin board in a locker room situated next to the shore of the Monongahela. This was material. And it has been placed on the bulletin board, where it belongs.
For the record, Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He finished fifth in the NFL in receiving yards and tied for sixth in receptions. As a rookie in 2017, he caught 58 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns.
This one doesn’t quite rise to Anthony Smith-in-2007 levels, and really, sometimes these things can be overblown, this one has the chance to lead to some excitement. Last year, when the Patriots played the Steelers, Jackson mostly played against Smith-Schuster, helping to limit the dangerous wideout to just four catches for 40 yards on 10 targets — one of his quietest games of the season.
Of course, the Patriots’ defensive strategy is likely to be different this time around, considering Antonio Brown is no longer lining up for Pittsburgh.
Still, any time you see No. 27 in blue lining up against No. 19 in white … it could provide for a tasty subplot in a game that features two teams that already don’t care much for one another.