While reception security hasn’t been a major issue thus far in Chase Claypool’s career, the third-year wide receiver understands that there are always opportunities to get better and to grow. Entering a pivotal season for himself, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he’s made some investments that he hopes will pay some dividends in the long run.
“I bought a JUGs machine, put it in my backyard. I’ve been trying to catch a couple hundred every day, a few hundred every day”, he said. As most regular readers may likely know, the JUGS machine is a type of football equipment that can launch a football when manually loaded. And they’re not cheap—they’ll set you back a few K. But he didn’t stop there, either—he went for the automatic as well.
“Then I got a Monarc at the field that we work out at”, he said, going on to explain what it is when asked. “It’s like an upgraded JUGGs machine. It’s like a superhero version of a JUGs machine. . .It’s just like, automatic. You have a clicker, and then you can just shoot balls to yourself. So I’ve been working on deep balls a lot”.
Billing itself as “the world’s first robotic quarterback”, the Monarc can be pre-loaded with six footballs at a time, and can better simulate throws, as well as kickoffs and punts, to produce a more football-like training regimen. You can use the Seeker component to precisely pinpoint where you want the ball to go, and how you want it to get there, maximizing your ability to target specific areas.
And it costs you about $50,000.
It’s noteworthy that Claypool specifically mentioned working on his deep targets, something that he has brought up earlier this offseason, talking about how he knows that he has to do a better job of keeping his feet when he is reaching for the ball down the field. It is a trait that has limited his effectiveness in completing downfield targets, even if he has still drawn defensive penalties.
While using catching apparatus has been commonplace for skill-position players, particularly wide receivers, for many, many years, it has become more the norm for individual players to invest in their own equipment.
Antonio Brown was largely responsible for introducing extensive extra work on the JUGS machine as a regular habit within the Steelers’ wide receiver room. JuJu Smith-Schuster continued it, largely working on his own, as others began to gravitate toward it.
I don’t know how much work Diontae Johnson may get specifically on JUGS machine, but he does considerable private work on his own with personal trainers, something that he took to another level last often, which paid dividends in his play during the 2021 season.
One hopes that Claypool can make a similar jump from year two to year three in buttoning up some of the bad habits that were limiting the top end of his effectiveness. A modest investment of most people’s annual salary is a small enough price to pay for an NFL wide receiver.