Pat Freiermuth is probably going to chip away at Eric Ebron’s snap count this season. And considering Ebron will be a free agent this offseason, there’s a good chance Freiermuth replaces Ebron as the Steelers’ starting tight end in 2022. But much like Jordan Berry did to Pressley Harvin III, Ebron has helped mentor Freiermuth in any way he can. Wednesday, Freiermuth praised Ebron for being a great teammate.
“Ebron’s been great,” Freiermuth told reporters following today’s practice in video provided by the team. “He’s been awesome with me and just kind of teaching me the ropes of being a successful tight end in the league. He’s been very successful in his career so far, and just picking up things from him and little things like that. It’s been awesome and he’s been awesome to work with and also to learn from.”
Ebron himself was in a similar situation coming out of the draft. A first-round pick, he had the weight of heavy expectations on him. At times, he lived up to them. Other times, he didn’t. Ebron’s been a bit of a polarizing player in his time with the Steelers but he’s played exactly as expected. A dynamic receiver in the passing game, a 50/500/5 season, but with inconsistent hands and poor blocking.
His presence alone allows Freiermuth to have a better learning curve to the NFL. Asking Freiermuth to play 1000+ snaps is asking for trouble. Tight ends have a big jump to make to the league, arguably only behind quarterbacks, and most are quiet their first year. Freiermuth can play based on his growth and development, not being forced into the lineup.
Freiermuth has had a solid supporting cast around him, leading to an impressive first summer with the team. Alfredo Roberts is an old-school, veteran coach who worked with his group as hard as any Steelers’ positional coach did this summer. He took advantage of any chance to get in extra reps. Before practice, during special teams sessions, and after practice. All those extra reps count.
The Steelers plan has likely been for Freiermuth to play roughly 500 snaps this season, working his way into the lineup behind/alongside Ebron, before taking over as “the guy” next season. All while getting the two years out of Ebron’s contract.