What do you say to a rookie second-round draft pick who stands at 6’4”, weighs 234 pounds, and just dominated a team, scoring four touchdowns from scrimmage while going over 100 yards for the game and consistently coming up with big plays on possession downs?
If you’re Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, it’s ‘stay humble, rookie’. And he was in that position on Sunday in the team’s victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, during which Chase Claypool played a foundational role, scoring four of the team’s five touchdowns in a 38-29 victory, including the final game-sealing 35-yard score on third and eight.
“He definitely kept telling me to stay humble”, Claypool told reporters after the game of the words from his head coach. “That’s something I always do in my life, so he doesn’t have to worry about that, but I do appreciate him keeping me grounded, because in times like this, you can definitely lose sight of important things, so I’m just staying level-headed. I’m enjoying the moment, for sure, but I’m not letting it get to me”.
The man they will probably increasingly be calling Mapletron has never, at least yet, carried himself in any way that indicates arrogance. He’s a somewhat soft-spoken Canadian who simply knows that he has a lot of talent and ability and believes that he is capable of performing at an even level with his peers with a good deal of success.
And he has, at least so far. Through four games, he has caught 13 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. As a bonus, he also has four tackles on special teams—perhaps his work in the third phase will help to keep him humble.
“Let’s be honest, a lot of it might not even have to do with him and his skill set”, Tomlin told reporters about Claypool’s four-touchdown day after the game. “We’ve just got a well-balanced attack. We’ve got guys that people have to account for. Guys like JuJu and Diontae and Ebron. And I just think that he’s probably a good matchup for whoever people have assigned to him from a man-to-man standpoint”.
“The strength of our pack is the pack, and to have quality depth and guys that are capable of making plays”, he added later on. “He was just going to be the guy today. He had a good matchup and he made some plays and they found that rhythm. I don’t want to make it out to be something more than it is. It was his turn today based on a lot of things, and he was able to deliver”.
Claypool is just a cog in Tomlin’s touchdown machine, and he just so happened to be up for the attention against the Eagles. At least that’s the story he’s sticking to for now, perhaps until Claypool outperforms the ‘cog’ status.