Throughout the season following each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positive and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight on some things you may or may not have seen.
2020 Regular Season Week 5
Chase Claypool (2nd Round) – 11 targets, 7 receptions, 110 yards, 3 TD, 3 carries, 6 yards, 1 TD, 52 offensive snaps, 9 special teams snaps
Unless you have been lost at sea for the last few days you already know Claypool had a great game on Sunday. Four touchdowns on 10 touches are impressive for anybody let alone a rookie who had 7 total touches coming into the game. His release was good getting DB’s off balance off the line of scrimmage. He uses his play strength and hands well vs Press and to create space other than one pass he seemed to be on the same page as the QB.
He made a nice block on the opening play a screen and showed good effort on his first carry to make sure he got the first down. He made contested catches vs Press coverage and had a lot of space vs Off Man coverage. Eight of his touches resulted in a first down or touchdown.
A couple weeks ago Ben Roethlisberger talked about trusting himself and his playmakers and he showed a lot of trust in Claypool this week. A good sign for the future for the Steelers.
Here is a look at Claypool’s (11) release on his first receiving touchdown using an extended jab step to the outside making it look like an outside release that turns around the DB.
Alex Highsmith (3rd Round) – 1 tackle, 13 defensive snaps, 15 special teams snaps
Highsmith had a fairly uneventful week. His first defensive snaps didn’t come until the second quarter and 10 of his snaps were passing plays. He wasn’t just used on the edge as he was used to roam inside on about four plays. He dropped into a middle Zone coverage three times. He showed good hustle on a play downfield and squeezed through a small gap inside to get his tackle on a QB sneak. Rushing the passer he showed some hesitation processing run vs pass and when rushing the passer relied a bit to much on the jump/swipe combo he had some success with earlier in the year.
On special teams he was on punt team, kick return and kick cover. There were several touchbacks but on kicks in play he was often double teamed. He nearly had a tackle on the initial kick off but was a little out of control and the runner cut inside of him. On kick return he could use improvement getting in to his block sooner and sustaining better.
Really like the hustle here from Highsmith (56). He tries a bull rush on the right side with no luck but that doesn’t stop him from hustling downfield after the receiver.
Anthony McFarland (4th round) – 3 carries, 6 yards, 5 offensive snap
McFarland saw early action but not a lot of action. He was the first RB to carry the ball but received just two carries after that. His first carry was a solid gain but if he showed a little more patience and cut off the block in the opposite direction he may have ended up in the end zone. He showed good effort to get downfield to block on the Ray-Ray McCloud fly pass. His other two running attempts were confusing toss plays that had no rhythm and even worse blocking up front.
Here is the run I was referring to above. If McFarland (26) shows a little more patience and cuts to the right off of David DeCastro’s (66) block all he has to do is beat the safety and it’s a score.
Kevin Dotson (4th Round) – 54 offensive snaps, 6 special teams snaps
Dotson’s first offensive snap was a little different lined up as a tight end in 14 personnel on a goal line run but after DeCastro went down he found himself at right guard again. This was a tough test lined up across from Fletcher Cox and once again he held up well.
As a pass blocker he showed good pad level, nice work with hands and showed very good mental processing on stunts and twists. My only real critique is his anchor versus power rushes. He got walked back in the pocket a couple of times, albeit against very strong defensive tackles, but it’s an area he can improve on.
He showed good mobility on screens and pulling on power runs and did very well on one on one blocks using quickness and body positioning to turn and wall off his man from the play. He was called for being and ineligible man downfield which may have been the wrong call because it looked like he was still at the LOS when the ball thrown. He was thrown into the fire and stepped up once again.
Here is rep vs Cox (91) and Dotson (69) uses a wide base and quick feet to laterally slide with the defender. He shows very good hand usage to counter everything Cox throws at him.
James Pierre (UDFA) – 10 special teams snaps
Step by step by step Pierre is showing a little improvement each week. His execution blocking the gunner is improving and becoming more effective. He is making contacted earlier and using basketball blocks to box out his man and avoid penalties. He has a chance at a tackle inside the twenty on kick coverage with the returner just slipping away. He did get his first NFL tackle on punt coverage working around a double team block and using his speed to beat the blockers down the field.
Here he’s at the bottom of the screen and has help from Cam Sutton but Pierre (42) does most of the work harassing the gunner down the field. Closer to the returner he uses he body to screen out the gunner.
Inactive for Week 5 – Carlos Davis (7th)
Practice Squad – Antoine Brooks (6th), Trajan Bandy (UDFA), Corliss Waitman (UDFA), Calvin Taylor (UDFA), Brandon Walton (UDFA)
Reserve/Injured – None