PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Holding on to an early lead, the Steelers were looking for a big play. Sitting on their own 16 yard line, they turned to a guy who is emerging as another big play option on their offense, in only his second game in the NFL.
Rookie receiver Chase Claypool ran under a throw just after Ben Roethlisberger was knocked to the ground, and finished half of the 84 yards with his legs giving the Steelers a 14-3 lead. They would go on to beat Denver 26-21 Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
“That was one of those plays where I knew I had a pretty good chance to get the ball, I just had to win on the route,” Claypool said. “Ben put it in a perfect spot for me to go do that. It was pretty cool.”
“Kind of had the coverage, they blitzed a guy up the middle,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I didn’t have a lot of time, I just kind of threw it far and high and let Chase run under it. He really did all of the work.”
It was one of three catches on the day for Claypool for a total of 88 yards and the touchdown.
With no preseason, the first year player from Notre Dame has caught everything thrown his way, including a tip-toe, sideline catch against the Giants in week one.
“It was honestly super helpful that we were able to get to the playbook in that virtual mini-camp thing,” Claypool said. “So I would get the plays and run through them on the field with one of my coaches back home and I think that helped me visualize things.”
Claypool also believes playing special teams as his first play of his NFL career helped him quickly adjust to the speed of the game.
“Coaches are doing a really good job in easing me into the games,” Claypool said. “They haven’t thrown me into the fire and asked too much. To make a play here and there is something I can do. As the season progresses, I just plan on playing more and more and contributing even more.”
While he’s made a splash, head coach Mike Tomlin is quick to reduce to growth of a young player’s head in this situations.
“He’s a young guy who has some talent,” Tomlin said. “He’s capable of stretching the field vertically, I think he’s put that on display. But we’ve always got a guy like that in the hopper at that position that stretches the field for us. He’s just the latest edition.”
The 2-0 Steelers host the Texans on Sunday with a growing corps of young receivers making them increasingly difficult to defend, whether the head coach will admit that publicly or not.