The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will Chase Claypool be available this weekend?
It seems that the majority of questions early in the week are catering to health updates. The big one starting out was, of course, T.J. Watt, which proved to be good news, though it remains to be seen whether or not he will have to miss a game.
Second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool is already coming off of a game missed due to a toe injury, but there seems to be optimism that he won’t be long for the inactive list. Head coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday that he anticipates Claypool will practice in some capacity today, and we’ll go from there.
With him sidelined, and with JuJu Smith-Schuster already on the Reserve/Injured List, the Steelers were left with Diontae Johnson as their lone starter, partnered with veteran James Washington, as well as Ray-Ray McCloud, Cody White, and Steven Sims, the last of which a practice squad elevation.
Washington contributed surprisingly little in the game after about the first quarter or so, the rest of his contributions seemingly settling into being the recipient of low-percentage deep contested passes on third and short from college teammate Mason Rudolph.
It was McCloud who emerged as the leading receiver during the game, catching a career-high nine passes. Johnson led in receiving yards, but had a very costly fumble in overtime that likely directly contributed to the game ending in a draw.
Getting Claypool back would certainly be big, provided that he is not going to be hampered by injury, embarking on a short two-game road trip against some explosive offenses in the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals.