To many Steelers’ fans, this was their first look at Pat Freiermuth’s hands in the NFL. Safe to say he passed that test. But to Mike Tomlin, and those who have watched Freiermuth in camp, it’s just more of the same. Tomlin was asked about Freiermuth’s two-touchdown performance in Saturday night’s win over Detroit.
“I don’t think he’s shown anything different than what he’s shown us throughout every component of the process,” Tomlin said in his post-game press conference. “Even dating back to minicamp, he made a very similar play in red zone in minicamp. I don’t think any of us are surprised by what he was able to do tonight.”
Freiermuth’s two catches were both in the red zone and both in the end zone for touchdowns. The first came after a vintage Ben Roethlisberger pump fake and on both grabs, Freiermuth reached high over his head for the score.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 21, 2021
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 22, 2021
As we noted in our camp stats, Freiermuth caught almost literally everything. He had the highest catch percentage of any Steeler we’ve tracked with at least 20 targets. Only three of his 24 targets were incomplete and at least one, the final play of practice Wednesday, was caught in the back of the end zone, Freiermuth only unable to get both feet inbounds. He did not record a drop in camp, one of just a handful of players who were targeted often not to put one on the grass.
Tomlin wasn’t the only one to offer praise. Ben Roethlisberger not-so-subtly compared him to Heath Miller.
“He’s a Steeler…he reminds me of another tight end we had here before,” Roethlisberger said via The Trib’s Chris Adamski.
Ben with high praise for Pat Freiermuth pic.twitter.com/lPc3QaCwmv
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 22, 2021
“He’s doing good,” was Roethlisberger’s full quote via the team site. “Let’s not talk about him too much. He works hard. He’s a Steeler. He reminds me of another tight end we’ve had here before.”
Freiermuth’s hands were one of the most attractive traits he had coming out of Penn State. He isn’t the fastest or most athletic tight end but he’s the definition of a security blanket for his QB, just as he was for Roethlisberger tonight. He’s also shown to be an above average route runner and a competitive blocker, though the latter area still needs work as it does for all rookie tight ends.
Whether it was during training camp or during a game, Freiermuth catching passes at Heinz Field is nothing new. Except to the fans getting to watch him make big plays tonight. Soon enough, that’ll just become the expectation.