When you score four touchdowns in a single game, it stands to reason that you’re going to be the center of attention to a certain degree. It doesn’t happen that often, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it hadn’t happened since 1968. At least not until rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool got the most of the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday.
The team’s second-round draft choice caught seven passes on the day, more than doubling his career total, for 110 yards. Three of those seven receptions went for touchdowns. He also carried the ball three times, once converting on third and two, and again scoring a two-yard touchdown.
While his accomplishments have been notable—so far, only five players have more than his four receiving touchdowns, and most of them have already played in five games—nobody on the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be particularly taken by surprise by what they see the young Notre Dame product accomplishing.
The defensive backs who were tasked with covering him in particular seemed to be in his favor early on. Joe Haden reminded us after yesterday’s game that he warned the world Claypool would be doing some damage back in the middle of August, retweeting an old tweet in which he wrote, “he’s going to be a PROBLEM! You heard it first from me!”.
He won’t be the last person we’ll hear it from. And Steven Nelson joined the choir yesterday after the game when he was asked if he also saw the makings of what he has shown so far in his young career. “He showed a lot of great things during camp, coming in as a young guy”, he said. “It looks like he picked up on the playbook pretty fast. He’s making plays early. Definitely, the young man has a bright future”.
Through four games, Claypool has only been targeted 20 times, but he has 13 receptions for 261 yards (the most on the team so far), averaging over 20 yards per reception, with four touchdowns. 10 of his 13 receptions have gone for first downs (or touchdowns).
His five explosive plays also ranks 17th in the NFL, which is more notable when you remember that he has played in one fewer game than most of those who are ahead of him on the list. The only rookie ahead of him is CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys, who already has nine, with 29 receptions for 433 yards.
Claypool has come up big in big moments throughout the first month of the season for the Steelers, and that’s largely because Ben Roethlisberger has allowed him to have the opportunities to do so. He’s closed out multiple games and come up with major third-down conversions. He’s not just making big plays. He’s making the clutch plays, too.