Arguably no Steeler is benefitting more from the loss of JuJu Smith-Schuster than tight end Pat Freiermuth. Of course, Freiermuth, isn’t gleeful about Smith-Schuster’s injury. But he is taking advantage of the opportunity, putting up season-high numbers in Sunday’s win over Seattle. He caught seven passes on seven targets for 58 yards, serving as a trusty underneath option for QB Ben Roethlisberger, who rarely and ineffectively pushed the ball downfield in the overtime victory.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Freiermuth said his confident is growing alongside his role.
“I understand the offense and what they’re trying to have us do as a whole and specifically the tight end position,” he told reporters in audio provided by the team. “I feel very confident in it and I’m ready to go attack the games after the bye week.”
Not only did Freiermuth log a high in reception, he his 45 snaps were the most he’s played in a game this year. Overtime played a factor but Freiermuth played 40 regulation snaps, surpassing his previous high of 33 snaps in Week Two. His 60% snap share was also the most of any game this year.
Prior to the Seahawks’ game, Ben Roethlisberger made it a point to note Freiermuth was someone he wanted to get more involved in the offense. He did and Freiermuth didn’t disappoint. We’ll have a video breaking down his game as a receiver tomorrow morning.
“I know it’s an awesome feeling, obviously getting the targets that I did this past weekend. Obviously I just gotta continue to improve and continue to be there for [Roethlisberger] when he needs me.”
Roethlisberger will probably look towards him plenty more the rest of the season. Freiermuth fills Smith-Schuster’s shoes well as the trusted, option route type of receiver. A potential go-to guy on third down, seven of his 18 receptions this season have come on third down. Those seven catches are just one behind Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and Najee Harris, who all have eight. Freiermuth’s role will continue to grow throughout the season. By Week One of next season, with Eric Ebron gone, he’ll be the clear-cut starter.