As usual, the Pittsburgh Steelers will expect nice jumps out of their second-year players in 2021. Included in that crop of individuals is wide receiver Chase Claypool, who really had a nice rookie 2020 season after Pittsburgh selected him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. With his rookie season now well behind him and his second NFL season now on tap, Claypool was asked during his Thursday media session to reveal what all he’s worked on this offseason to help him improve his overall game.
“Off the field, I’ve been strengthening the little deficiencies in my body,” Claypool said. “So, I’ve really been working on the right side of my body since I’m left side dominant, I think I have a little more balance in that area. And then on the field, me and T.J. Houshmandzadeh do a lot of the same things that we did last year because, you know, it worked. So, there’s no reason to veer off of that road. So just kind of doing the things that have worked and throwing out the stuff that hasn’t.”
Claypool revealing that him continuing to work with Houshmandzadeh, a former NFL wide receiver who played most of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, this offseason isn’t a huge surprise. After all, Claypool has posted a few videos of him having some training sessions that Houshmandzadeh was present at on his Instagram account earlier in the offseason. Claypool’s comments about him working on his right side more because he is left side dominant was quite a revelation, and not one you hear a lot of players talk about. It’s a shame that comment wasn’t followed up on.
As a rookie in 2020, Claypool seemed to be in great shape throughout the season. In fact, not only did he play almost 700 offensive snaps in 2020, but he also logged nearly another 125 on special teams. However, because he averaged around just 43 offensive snaps a game as a rookie, Claypool was asked on Thursday if he feels he could have handled 20 more a game than he did in 2020.
“Physically, I was good to go for as many snaps as they needed me for, but it all depends on the scheme and what they’re trying to do in the game plan,” Claypool said. “You know, sometimes my snaps will be higher, sometimes they’ll be less. So, as long as I’m playing a little bit, I’ll be all right; make an impact.”
Claypool was also asked on Thursday about his 2020 offensive snaps possibly being dialed down some during the later third of the regular season to ensure that he didn’t hit the proverbial rookie wall.
“Exactly, yeah, I didn’t really feel a rookie wall, but I think it was more Coach [Tomlin] getting ahead of it potentially if he knew it was going to come like a little bit near the end of the season,” Claypool said. “So, I think he wanted, knowing that we’re probably going to be in the playoffs at that point, I think he was just trying to keep some guys up.”
For Claypool only playing right around 700 offensive snaps in 2020, he still managed to produce some nice stats. In fact, his 62 total catches were the third-most on the team in 2020 and his 873 receiving yards were the second-most. Claypool also led the Steelers in total touchdowns as a rookie with 11. Nine of those came via pass receptions.