The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How soon will Chase Claypool be one of the Steelers’ top two receivers—if he is not already?
Chase Claypool has played a lot more snaps in the past two games than he did in the first two games. But Diontae Johnson has also left early in both of those games due to injuries, so we can’t discern a great deal from that regarding his usage.
Now that he has had his breakout game, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers manage Claypool’s snaps once the wide receiver group gets back to full health. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Johnson figure to be their top two receivers, which means Claypool is third—I think we can fairly deduce by now that his role has surpassed that of James Washington’s.
In spite of the fact that he is a rookie and had a limited offseason, the second-round pick is showing more polish and understanding of game situations than I think a lot of people anticipated seeing this early in his career.
The Steelers obviously drafted him because they saw star potential in him, and had visions of his being a long-term, Pro Bowl-quality starter for the organization. That doesn’t mean they expected him to be a big day-one contributor.
Chances are we won’t get a clear image of the pecking order for some time. One wide receiver may play more than the other based upon a particular matchup in a given game. And really, that’s how it should be, with rare exceptions.