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 7
Chase Claypool (2nd Round) – 1 receptions, -2 yards, 51 offensive snaps, 8 special teams snaps
He may not be a number one receiver but Tennessee treated him as such. Bill Belichick is well known for trying to take away the offenses most explosive player and it would seem Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel also subscribes to that philosophy.
The majority of the time when Claypool was lined up outside he had the Titans best defensive back Malcolm Butler right there with him. The Titans also mixed it up using bracket coverage and safety help over the top. When Claypool was in the slot they used a linebacker to wall him off on any in breaking or crossing routes. There were times he was open on curls and out routes but his lone reception was on a touch pass from fly motion in the backfield. Maybe it was an offensive choice to stay away from Butler but Ben Roethlisberger took one shot that way on a deep ball that resulted in defensive pass interference. Claypool was also the target on a Q4 play but Jaylen Samuels was called for offensive pass interference.
He was also use on kick coverage but was not a part of any tackles.
Alex Highsmith (3rd Round) – 3 solo tackles, 1 assist, 8 defensive snaps, 18 special teams snaps
Highsmith continues to improve and was very productive this week getting 4 total tackles on only 8 defensive snaps. His first tackle came in coverage of the slot receiver and he looked pretty good doing it flipping his hips to stay with the wide receiver and make the immediate tackle. His second tackle was while playing the 6 tech on the left side. He used his hands well to control the blocker and then shed and fill the gap to make a tackle for no gain.
Tackle number three he showed good chase from the backside to take down the runner with Vince Williams. The final tackle was on a cut back by Derek Henry where Highsmith made the solo tackle. Only two of his snaps were passing plays and he showed a solid rip to the inside.
He was also not credited with any tackles on special teams. Great production in limited snaps this week and overall he played very well especially against the run.
Here is the first run stop by Highsmith (56). Good push on the TE to the inside with eyes in the backfield and he comes off to make a nice stick for no gain.
In this play Highsmith will move out to the slot receiver. He opens to the outside but flips his hips well to stay with the wide receiver and nearly make a play on the ball.
Anthony McFarland (4th round) – 1 carry, 6 yards, 1 target, 5 offensive snaps
His offensive snap count tied for his lowest of the year and he was in for one running play and four passing plays. His run was a Zone run to the right but seeing the front side was cut off he show good change of direction and acceleration to cut back to his left and gain six yards. Watching the game a second time I thought he could have used his speed to get outside where he had two blockers and try to get more yards.
On his other snaps he ran a swing route out of the backfield and a screen pass that was poorly blocked in which he was the target. The other two plays he was lined up outside and ran a stop route on one and a go route on the other. The go route was on a screen to Vance McDonald and I can see them using this later in the season to fake the screen and hit McFarland deep.
Here is McFarland’s (26) run and his initial cut is good but he cuts back inside where there are multiple players and you can see if he continues to the outside he has Ray-Ray McCloud and Claypool out there to block for him. Still a good run but maybe could have been better.
Kevin Dotson (4th Round) – 0 offensive snaps, 5 special teams snaps
Dotson did not get on the field for any offensive snaps with David DeCastro back healthy and was only used on field goals and extra points.
James Pierre (UDFA) – 2 solo tackles, 13 special team snaps
Pierre continues to improve getting his first mutli-tackle game of the year and just missed making another tackle. On the Steelers first kick off he had a chance to a make a tackle around the 15 yard line. He slowed the runner as he cut outside but the runner stayed on his feet. His first tackle came on a kick off and used his hands well to keep the blocker off of him and use his inside arm to bring down the runner.
His second tackle came on a punt return where he had to beat a double team block that forced him out of bounds and win the race downfield. He did get overzealous on the tackle and was flagged for unnecessary roughness throwing the runner down out of bounds. He was solid blocking on punts but ended up on the ground 3 times. Part of that could be the turf as there were several Steelers who slipped down over the course of the game.
Here is the punt tackle by Pierre (42, bottom of the screen) and you see how far he gets driven out of bounds but continues downfield, trying to avoid the other blocker before breaking free to make the tackle. This was a great effort play.
Inactive for Week 5 – Carlos Davis (7th)
Practice Squad – Antoine Brooks (6th), Corliss Waitman (UDFA), Calvin Taylor (UDFA), Brandon Walton (UDFA), Cody White (UDFA), Ray Wilborn (UDFA)
Reserve/Injured – None