Talk to most rookies and they’ll tell you the toughest adjustment to the NFL is the speed of the game. How much quicker the pace is, the corner you would’ve burned in college now eats your lunch at the line of scrimmage.
Chase Claypool isn’t having that issue. It sure helps when you come to the league as one of the fastest dudes on the field. Speaking to reporters Monday, Claypool said he hasn’t had a difficult time absorbing the Steelers’ playbook nor an issue with the speed of pro football.
“I think the playbook and the speed were pleasant surprises,” he said via the team’s Youtube channel. “It wasn’t a huge jump in terms of playbook. Speed of the game, I adjusted pretty quickly to that.”
Three games in, Claypool’s making his mark on special teams and offense. He’s done well as a coverage player on kicks and punts, earning starting jobs on both units out of the gate, and recorded three tackles in Week 2’s win over Denver. Since 2000, he’s one of just two Steelers’ receivers to register three special teams tackles in a game. Perhaps his experience at Notre Dame, being a senior who played everywhere, even remaining a gunner while he was a starting wideout in 2019, gave him a leg up in making the NFL leap.
Week 3 against Houston served as a litmus test for his readiness. Losing Diontae Johnson early in that game due to a concussion pressed Claypool into an every-down role. He ended up playing 61 offensive snaps, most of any Steelers’ receiver, and picked up a crucial third down conversion to seal the win. Claypool said that experience was important to have early in the season.
“I think it was good to get a full game under my belt to know what to expect the next time it might happen. Definitely speeds up the development. But I don’t think there’s too much of a gap I need to fill in.”
Claypool’s next goal is to hone in on the details of the position to make himself an even better target for his quarterback.
“I feel good with everything. Little things like timing that can get always get better. That’s what I’m working on now. Rather than learning the plays because I know them all. How to do each play specifically to 7’s liking.”
He may still be a rookie but he’s not talking like one. His interview reminded me of Maurkice Pouncey’s during his rookie year. Someone who took the game seriously, knew all the work that goes into being a professional, but isn’t tripped up by the common obstacles rookies deal with. If he stays on this track, he’ll continue to have a successful rookie year.