Patrick Mahomes is enjoying the JuJu Smith-Schuster experience so far.
The 25-year-old wideout arrived in Kansas City this offseason as part of the Chiefs’ effort to offset the loss of Tyreek Hill. Smith-Schuster had some bright years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but injuries thus far have prevented him from cementing himself as one of the game’s top options at the position.
But Mahomes went to Smith-Schuster often in the Chiefs’ 44-21 season-opening win over the Arizona Cardinals, with the wideout reeling in six passes for 79 yards.
The star quarterback told “The Drive” it was the continuation of what he’s been seeing for weeks.
“He had a good game. People that were at practices and training camp, he showed that he’s very versatile, he can work over the middle, make some catches,” Mahomes said during his weekly interview on 610 Sports Radio. “He can still gain these big, explosive plays. I think that’s another part of the offense that will help us, help other guys get open, as well. You’ll have guys like Travis (Kelce) and JuJu working over the middle, and then we’re able to hit on Mecole (Hardman) and Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) on the outsides."
Smith-Schuster was only 20 when he was drafted in the second round by the Steelers in 2017. So although this is his sixth NFL season, he’s only 25, which should inspire optimism that there might still be some growth left in his game.
“He got drafted super young, he was actually in my draft class. It was funny, I remember being at the NFL Rookie Premiere, he couldn’t drink because he wasn't 21-years-old, so he had to wear a different color wristband than everybody else,” Mahomes said. “That was how young he was when he got drafted, and even though it feels like he’s been around for a long time he’s still a young dude, and he’ll keep getting better and better.”
Because of the Chiefs’ collection of pass-catchers, defenses won’t be able to key in on Smith-Schuster like they could for the latter years of his run with the Steelers. That should only help a Chiefs offense that has a lot to feel good about after one game.