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Chase Claypool Praises Ben Roethlisberger’s Help Transitioning Into NFL, Says He’s Doing The Same For 2021’s Rookies

It’s overwhelmingly likely at this point that tomorrow night will be the last time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ever starts a home game at Heinz Field. The 18-year veteran acknowledged that himself this past week, and since then, most of the discussion heading into the Monday night showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns has focused on his legacy.

At 39 years old, Roethlisberger has understandably played with a lot of different players over the years, and he has had a different relationship and a different role with all of them. Over the past decade or so, however, he has taken on a greater leadership and teacher role, and that has especially been the case for skill position players such as wide receivers. That’s something second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool talked about yesterday when discussing his relationship with Roethlisberger.

It’s been pretty good”, he said. “Especially in the first year, transitioning into the league with no preseason. He was a great role model for me in terms of helping me with the transition and easing me into it, and not throwing too much at me at once. Obviously it paid off really well”.

Of course, the 2020 season was shrouded in the first round of the COVID-19 pandemic prior to vaccines being available, and that resulted in many concessions being made, including no spring workouts, a truncated preseason, no preseason, and virtual meetings.

All of those limitations made it particularly difficult for rookies coming in to learn what they needed to know to be early and productive contributors, but the second-round pick didn’t particularly have that problem. In fact, he had one of the better rookie seasons in team history, with 62 receptions (at the time a record before it was broken this year) for 873 yards and nine receiving touchdowns (tied for a record), 11 scrimmage touchdowns (also tied for a record).

But it wasn’t just Claypool, of course. He did the same thing for Diontae Johnson the year before Claypool arrived, and for JuJu Smith-Schuster the year before Johnson. Not to mention James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell—everybody who comes in.

“He’s done the same thing with Pat Freiermuth this year, and Najee [Harris], so he’s really good when it comes to helping get settled and become a more experienced player quicker”, Claypool added in talking about how Roethlisberger has been hands-on with his young teammates.

Who knows where we will be a year from now? There are reports that head coach Mike Tomlin would prefer to acquire a veteran to start at quarterback next year. Any quarterback, even a rookie, is expected to be a leader in some way. But it will obviously be quite a different dynamic without Roethlisberger in the room.

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