When the Steelers picked JuJu Smith-Schuster in the 2017 NFL Draft, the gauntlet was thrown down among one of the NFLs deepest and most explosive offensive lines.
There are a lot of high profile wide receivers on the Steelers, with three players who would otherwise be surefire locks as starters on almost any other team. Smith-Schuster joins Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates as potential starting wide receivers in Pittsburgh.
This wasn't just a case of outside speculation, either.
What drafting Smith-Schuster meant wasn't lost on Bryant. He immediately posted a tweet after Smith-Schuster was taken by the Steelers that read:
"LOL. That's' replacement not [mine]; take it how you want to I am back." That tweet was soon deleted.
Bryant missed the entire 2016 season with a substance-abuse suspension. Despite this black mark on his career, Bryant is an undeniable force when he's on the field.
For his part, Coates laughed off Bryant's remark.
This, of course, led to a lot of speculation about the status of the Steelers locker room and the suddenly crowded wide receiver position.
Bryant wanted to put all that to rest when he spoke with ESPN's Jeremy Fowler last week, saying: "Nah, it was just a little friendly competition. [Coates is] still my brother, so we just did it out of love for each other."
Another Pittsburgh wide receiver, veteranchimed in on the situation, confirming: "They joke around -- they actually are the closest dudes on the team. It's the brotherly thing. I'm going to take a jab at you, you take a jab at me."
Coates struggled and lost games to injury last season, which has left his status in Pittsburgh in question.
Withas the go-to WR, Bryant's return, and if Smith-Schuster lives up to his hype, Coates will be competing with Ayers, Hamilton, Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, and more, for the fourth or fifth spot on the receiver depth chart.
The banter may be friendly, but the competition is very real. Hopefully, far from creating unwanted drama, the good-natured chirping between potential star wide receivers can bring the best out of everybody in Pittsburgh.
Source: Ryan Wilson - CBS · Photo Credit: KEYSTONE PRESS