The Pittsburgh Steelers did not have a game this past week. They will have a game next week—and for the following 12 weeks after that. With a week four bye, they have a long stretch ahead of them, but it’s nothing the organization hasn’t faced before—even if most of the players on the current roster are new to such an early bye.
It wasn’t, of course, planned that way. The Steelers were supposed to have a bye in the middle of the season, but the schedule went awry when their opponent experienced a viral outbreak in their facility infecting 20 people.
That means the team has to play the next 13 games with no breaks, and if they reach the postseason, unless they’re the number one seed, that’s potentially 17 weeks without pause. It’s a ‘grin and bear it’ situation, to be sure, but it can still be frustrating.
The biggest obstacle on that road is perhaps the physical one. Football is a rather violent sport that takes a toll on the body. There’s a reason most games take place a week apart from one another. But even the standard time between games might not be enough due to an accumulation of bumps and bruises, which is where the bye week comes in handy.
Chase Claypool is new to the NFL, but he is surrounded by veteran experience, and he is heeding the advice where possible. Though he’s just three games into his career, he’s already treating his body the way he ought to—as the vehicle that drives his meal ticket. In other words, he’s taking care of it, especially knowing what the next few months holds.
“I think it’s just staying on top of the bumps and bruises that may arise”, he told reporters about withstanding the rigors of playing 13-plus consecutive weeks of football. “Not letting them wait until they become something problematic. That’s what I’ve been doing. If I’ve got a little soreness somewhere, I make sure I get that treated. And then it’s back to practice”.
Through three games, Claypool has logged close to 150 snaps in total between offense and special teams, with six catches and four tackles. He is the featured wide receiver in the team’s heavy packages, an assignment that typically calls upon him as a run-blocker.
He may be 6’4” and in around 234 pounds, but anyone’s body is inflicted with, as Mike Tomlin would say, the various bumps and bruises that are common to the game. Claypool and all of his teammates would be wise to pay special attention to what their bodies are telling them this year, under the circumstances.