Seeing the first-team offense for the first time this preseason sure was a treat for Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans.
Ben Roethlisberger looked pretty darn good in limited action, while rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth put up big showings inside Heinz Field for the first time as Steelers.
Though Harris had the highlight of the night with his 46-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline against the Detroit Lions, Freiermuth is the talk of the town coming out of Saturday’s action.
The Penn State product, who has caught nearly everything this summer in training camp and in games, showed off his great hands and elite-level body control on Saturday night in the redzone, hauling in both of his targets for touchdowns, sparking the Steelers’ offense and receiving high praise fro the veteran signal caller, who knows a thing or two about tight ends in the red zone.
“Yeah, they had the defense that they had called. We basically had one option and it was him [Freiermuth] down the middle when I knew he was going to be on the linebacker,” Roethlisberger said to reporters following the 26-20 win. “And that’s what we want him to do. He’s got to win against linebackers and he did. And I, we worked out a lot. If you watch practice, I try not to throw good balls all the time. I know it sounds crazy, but, you know, I want to see what they’re capable of doing and he’s one, I’m sure when rookies or guys come in here, they’re like, man, Ben is not very accurate and it’s intentional. And so I’ve thrown that ball to him dozens of times in practice.
“So he was ready for it. And then he made the rest happen,” Roethlisberger added. “I’d like to give him more credit too, because in practice a lot of, probably three or four times, he’s on the back end line. He hasn’t gotten his feet in — gotten one in which would be good in college, but not in the NFL. And, you know he had one this last week where he didn’t keep them both in, but there he cut them both in. And you could tell that he’s working on his craft, as coach would say.”
The situation that Roethlisberger described regarding Freiermuth’s second touchdown of the night showed just what the rookie could be in the redzone in Pittsburgh. One-on-one against a linebacker in the redzone should be a win every time for the Penn State product, and it was great to see him not only win vertically in the redzone, but show off his body control to twist, catch the football and get both feet down in the end zone for the score.
Expectations need to be tempered overall, especially for rookie tight ends in the NFL, but Freiermuth’s big showing against the Lions in the Steelers’ first preseason home game was quite exciting overall and shows just how good the former Penn State star could be on the North Shore.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 21, 2021
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 22, 2021