During Sunday’s Week 1 over the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver Chase Claypool was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ leading rusher with six carries for 36 yards. He was the only receiver to get carries in the game, but offensive coordinator Matt Canada said other receivers could see touches on jet sweep plays going forward.
“Some of it was just the formation and we’re always talking matchups and things like that. There are certain reasons in a game why it is that we’ve got different guys that can run jets at different times. In that game, the way we kind of had it, you can’t run every play every game. I know everybody would like to do that, but you have to practice and prepare and have looks and those things. In that plan, we had some looks we felt were good. Chase has done a good job with that. I thought some of those plays were pretty big plays for us,” Canada said via official transcript provided by the team. “So, it won’t always be him but in that game, it kind of fell that way.”
Pittsburgh has a lot of guys who could potentially take those jets in-game. Gunner Olszewski, Stevin Sims (if he gets activated on game days) and even Diontae Johnson all have the ability to be the guy to make something happen on a jet sweep. Obviously, when Calvin Austin III returns from IR, he’s someone else that can fill that role.
Still, I’m not sure why Pittsburgh would want to turn away from Claypool after his performance in Week 1. As a rookie, he did a good job on those sorts of plays, and against a solid Bengals defense, he made a couple of nice runs. Obviously, giving different looks so teams can’t key on Claypool is going to be important, but I think Claypool should still be involved in the run game with at least a carry or two a game to see if he can keep up what he did during Week 1.
With all the pre-snap motions and movement in Canada’s offense though, there will assuredly be other guys getting involved. Olszewski was involved on the flea flicker that went for 31 yards, as he tossed the ball back to Trubisky, and he was involved with some jets in the preseason. He’s the most likely candidate to receive more work against New England, a team he knows well given that he spent his entire career up to this point with them. It’s going to be interesting to see if a receiver is going to be able to step up to become a consistent threat running the football.