90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: T.J. Carter, Demarcus Christmas, Chase Claypool

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 offseason practices concluded last week. Next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July. Ahead of training camp, we will preview the team’s 90-man roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers 90-man roster preview that includes outlooks for each player goes alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.

The next three players we will preview today are T.J. Carter, Demarcus Christmas, and Chase Claypool.

DE T.J. Carter — Carter was signed to the Steelers roster back in April and after he was allowed to participate in the Kentucky pro day. Carter originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 as an undrafted free agent but they cut him a week into last year’s training camp. Listed at 6’4, 289, Carter reportedly had 26 reps on the bench press, and his 40 time was under five seconds at offseason pro day. Playing at Kentucky from 2016 to 2019, Carter ended his college career with 71 tackles (12.5 TFL) and six sacks. He put up some of his best numbers as a senior, registering 26 tackles (6 TFL) with a pair of sacks.

Outlook: Carter being a defensive end in the Steelers defensive system means he has a huge uphill battle on his hands this summer as he needs to prove he warrants being signed to the team’s practice squad at the start of the regular season. The Steelers have way too much defensive line depth on their roster to warrant Carter having any kind of shot at making the 53-man roster. So, it’s practice squad or bust for Carter.

DT Demarcus Christmas — Christmas, who was originally selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, was signed by the Steelers way earlier in the offseason. The former Florida State defensive tackle failed to appear in a game with the Seahawks before the team parted ways with him. Listed at 6’3, 302 pounds, Christmas recorded 77 total tackles in his college career. He also had 7 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks at Florida State.

Outlook: Christmas is probably best suited to play defensive tackle in the Steelers system than he is wider out at a 4 or 5-tech. Basically, he is a third or fourth string interior defensive lineman on the team’s roster heading into training camp and that means he has virtually no shot at making the 53-man roster. Christmas has some draft pedigree, however, so there is a small chance that he shows enough during training camp and the preseason to warrant him being kept around on the team’s practice squad at the start of the 2021 regular season.

WR Chase Claypool — Claypool, who was selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, had a tremendous rookie season. In total, Claypool registered 62 receptions for 873 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in addition to having two more touchdowns on rushing attempts. Claypool also led the NFL in pass interference penalty yardage drawn as a rookie. Claypool had 14 explosive play receptions during his rookie season, and he played nearly 700 total offensive snaps and anther 124 on special teams.

Outlook: Claypool will obviously be a big part of the Steelers offense in 2021 and that could result in him playing a lot less on special teams as well. Claypool is the team’s best deep threat heading into 2021 and he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger must make it a point to have a higher completion percentage than last season. Claypool should continue to draw pass interference penalties in his second NFL season. His explosive play totals should also increase in 2021 as should his combative catch percentage. Look for Claypool to play a little more in the slot in 2021 as well so that fellow Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster can play on the outside a little more. Claypool should have a chance to establish himself as one of the league top 15 wide receivers in 2021 and it’s important that he does just that if the Steelers hope to make a playoff run.

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