Chase Claypool Makes Instant Impact With Big Catch On First Career Touch

The Pittsburgh Steelers overall have a pretty impressive recent history with respect to their wide receivers beginning their careers with a bang. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Washington all scored touchdowns on their first NFL touch, Brown’s coming on a kick return.

Chase Claypool may not have gotten into the end zone on his first NFL touch, but it was one of the more impressive individual first touches within the group, resulting in a big play. It came on the Steelers’ second drive of the game, and converted the second consecutive third-and-long, the first going to JuJu Smith-Schuster for 11 yards on third and seven.

The big rookie was caught on the right sideline on third and nine three plays later, hauling it in with an impressive toe-tap grab, proceeding to show good body control to turn his body around and prevent the ground from having any impact on possession.

The end result was a 28-yard snare that put the Steelers into New York Giants territory for the first time on the night, giving them the ball on the 39. They would ultimately get to the 23-yard line and it gave them the opportunity to tie the game at the time at 3-3.

Pittsburgh used its highest pick of the 2020 NFL Draft in order to pick up Claypool, 49th-overall, due to the fact that the Steelers had previously traded away their first-round pick the previous September in order to acquire safety Minkah Fitzpatrick via trade.

In spite of the fact that there was a very limited offseason, the team showed great confident in the rookie’s ability to play and contribute right away. They carried only five wide receivers on the 53-man roster, with the fifth wide receiver being Ray-Ray McCloud, who is largely a dedicated kick returner and is unlikely to see much time on offense.

At 6’4” and 234 pounds, the Steelers have never had a wide receiver of his proportions. He is a rare body type, and it’s no surprise that Roethlisberger has quickly taken a liking to him. We consistently heard reports throughout training camp, including from teammates such as Joe Haden, that he was making plays.

Without the benefit of the preseason, it was hard to know how much stock to put into that, with the first opportunity to see him in a game-like setting being…the first game of the season, on Monday Night Football, in the biggest market in the game.

Though there was nobody in the stands, the moment did not look too big for Claypool. Though he did miss a tackle on special teams, I think it’s fair to say that his rookie year is going to be defined by a lot more than the number of tackles he registers.

Claypool added another 11-yard reception that came on third and long that allowed them to get into better field goal position, and ended the game with an eight-yard end-around on fourth and one that allowed the Steelers to run out the clock. So three touches, all important. Not a bad start.

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