With one game left to go in the regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool is within striking distance of a number of franchise rookie records. Sitting at 57 receptions, he needs just five on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns to break Troy Edwards’ record of 61, set in 1999, for example.
Louis Lipps also owns the team’s rookie record for receiving touchdowns in a season with nine. Claypool has eight heading into the finale, so he needs one to tie and two to pass. He does have two games with two or more receiving touchdowns. Lipps and Franco Harris share the rookie scoring record at 11. Claypool currently has 10, so, again, one to tie and two to break.
The rookie is also sitting at 772 receiving yards on the season. He would need a career day to surpass JuJu Smith-Schuster’s franchise rookie record in receiving yards of 917, which he set in 2017, but it’s certainly possible. He does have a 110-yard game under his belt.
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame, Claypool has had a bigger impact on this season than most anticipated, but head coach Mike Tomlin has also tried in the second half of the season to manage what they were putting on his plate. Despite that, Smith-Schuster doesn’t believe he’s ever run out of steam.
“At the end of the day, he hasn’t spoken to me, but I know that he has not hit the rookie wall yet”, he told reporters earlier today, “just because I’ve been there and I’ve felt that before, but more so for him, it’s just, we have so many options on our offense, it’s hard to pick one”.
It has been five weeks now without Claypool finding the end zone. He also hasn’t gained 55 or more yards since then, and he also only has one game in that span with more than four reception. As have others, he has battled some drop issues, including a dropped touchdown on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I think he’s having a great season”, Smith-Schuster said overall of the one receiver on the roster younger than he is. “I just think that some plays are being made at other positions and other people are making their plays in the second half [of the season], maybe because they’re double teaming Chase and stuff like that”.
The two share the team lead in receiving touchdowns this season with eight. Earlier today, Claypool was named the Steelers’ rookie of the year, as well. Though that was no surprise, they have also gotten quality contributions from Alex Highsmith, who moved into the starting lineup at right outside linebacker after Bud Dupree was injured, and Kevin Dotson, who has started three games at guard and seen time in others due to injuries.