"The chemistry is on point," Smith-Schuster told reporters after Wednesday's organized team activities session. "Everyone is on the same page. Everyone is communicating. There's really no -- how do you say? -- drama in our locker room."
The Steelers took the field with excitement about Smith-Schuster, who replaces Antonio Brown as the top option in the passing game. Quarterback and co-captain Ben Roethlisberger said he believes Smith-Schuster is ready for the "awesome challenge." Co-captain Cameron Heyward said Smith-Schuster, 22, is a "great kid" who only wants to improve.
But the comparisons to Brown, now an Oakland Raider after a messy divorce with the Steelers, will be hard to ignore. Whether intended or not, Smith-Schuster is already setting a different tone than Brown when it comes to media access. Brown was known to conduct one interview a week during the regular season -- every Friday at his Steelers locker -- and the sessions were more of a spectacle than serious work.
Smith-Schuster also had begun a once-a-week trend, but apparently that's changing.
"When you guys see Ben tomorrow, tell him I came out here and did an interview," Smith-Schuster told reporters, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He said I was trending to that one-day-[a-week] interview guy. I'm definitely not doing that. You guys can talk to me any time of the day. I promise you I'm not going to be an a--hole."
Roethlisberger is the team's marquee player but does one-on-one interviews outside of his normal Wednesday morning session with a group.
Brown and Smith-Schuster comprised one of the league's most fearsome duos last year but feuded after Brown was traded to Oakland. In April, Brown used social media to criticize Smith-Schuster's fumbling in response to a post about Smith-Schuster's team MVP award. "Crazy how big that ego got to be to take shots at people who show you love! Smh," responded Smith-Schuster, who led the team in catches (111) and yards (1,426) last season.
Smith-Schuster has moved past that spat and doesn't plan to chase stats this season.
"I'm looking at my own team and how we do and how we win," Smith-Schuster said. "I would take five catches for 30 yards and win the game than have 10 catches and two touchdowns. It's not really about myself at the end of the day. It's about getting a Super Bowl."
Smith-Schuster said the Steelers' locker room is full of veterans who know their role. That won't stop him from providing a youthful bite.
"Being a young guy in a room, being 22, I feel like a French bulldog, you know, just barking at everybody,'' he told reporters. "At the same time, they've got dogs, too, so they can bark. I like that role.''