Coming into the start of the 2021 season with four potential starters on offense entering their rookie seasons, it was understandable to be a bit concerned about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ outlook offensively in what could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.
Following a Week 8 win in Cleveland against the rival Browns inside FirstEnergy Stadium, there are no concerns moving forward about the rookies overall, as Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris, Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. all played key roles in the victory and continue to be key pieces for the Steelers’ offense overall.
After the win in Cleveland, Freiermuth was asked by reporters about the impact the four rookies have made offensively, and how they’re able to have such an impact so early in their NFL careers.
“Yeah, we’re playing big time football,” Freiermuth said to reporters, via video from the Steelers’ YouTube page. “Um, you know, obviously the four guys on offense. You know, we played at big, big time places though, so we’re used to big time games and, um, you know, I think it’s just, you know, we continue to build confidence each week. And you know, Coach Tomlin does a great job in practice to, you know, make us feel comfortable with the game plan and everything like that. So, you know, I think it just goes back to college and where we played and, you know, we played some big time games.”
The Steelers typically always target Power 5 prospects when it comes to the draft, largely due to that experience in big-time atmospheres. That’s what they went for in the 2021 NFL Draft too, grabbing multi-year starters at Power 5 conferences with every pick, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the rookies are contributing right away.
Harris remains the bellcow for the Steelers and recorded yet another 100+ total yard game on Sunday against the Browns, rushing for 91 yards and a score and adding another 29 yards through the air. Freiermuth had a spectacular touchdown catch and finished with 44 yards on four catches, while Green and Moore Jr. opened up big lanes in the run game. Moore Jr. really struggled against Myles Garrett in pass protection (who hasn’t?) and Green again struggled with holding penalties, but overall there is no denying the positive impact the four offensive rookies have on the offense.