Pittsburgh Steelers WR Chase Claypool is entering a pivotal 2022 season. He burst onto the scene as a rookie with 62 receptions for 873 yards and 11 total TDs in the regular season, with another two coming in the playoffs. He appeared ready to make the leap in Year 2, but failed to live up to expectations, posting nearly identical reception and yardage totals, but saw his TD drop to two on the season.
Claypool has also faced backlash for his maturity and character in 2021 given his celebrations and usage of social media, drawing negative attention from fans who blamed his step back in performance on not being focused on his craft as a professional football player. To his credit, Claypool showed signs of growth in terms of maturity and as a leader at the end of the 2021 campaign and into the offseason, putting him on the fence in terms of if he will be more like the player he was as a rookie or the player he was last season.
When asked prior to practice on how he has gone about improving as a pass catcher since he entered the league as a second-round pick back in 2020 out of Notre Dame, Claypool credited his work ethic and desire to improve on his weaknesses as the main points of emphasis
“You know, working on it every day,” Claypool answered the question to the media on video from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “Trying to get some extra work in. In terms of how I evolve, I just put more work into it. Try different catches. Try harder catches in practice or harder catches on the sideline. Things that I’m not necessarily the strongest at and then try to find my weaknesses so I can improve them.”
To his credit, Claypool has been putting in the work this offseason to recapture his rookie season form. He has gotten with Mitch Trubisky as well as the rest of his teammates this offseason down in Florida to work on routes and has been training more on his craft as well as studying the intricacies of the WR position on tape to hone his skills, both physical and mental, to become the best player he can be in 2022.
At the end of the day, Claypool still must go out and execute to have all that offseason work come to fruition. A shoulder injury has kept him from making an impact early in training camp, but he likely should get the green light any day now to resume practice. Now that Diontae Johnson has re-signed with Pittsburgh, Claypool’s future with the team is up in the air given the team just drafted George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Should Claypool put together a strong 2022 season, he will put the Steelers in a good, yet difficult, predicament of whether to re-sign him as well.