When Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth went down with a knee injury in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns, it appeared the second-year pro suffered a serious knee injury. He was in immediate pain on the field, and from video of the injury, it didn’t look like it was going to be any sort of minor ailment. While Freiermuth suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain, he confirmed on Off The Field With Aditi Kinkhbawala that he won’t need surgery. Still, the Penn State product acknowledged going down in the manner he did alarmed him.
“It was a little scary,” Freiermuth said.
But he said the knee won’t require surgery.
“Feeling good, knees all good. Just a little scare. A little month of rehab, I’ll be good.”
Freiermuth then explained how doctors came to that conclusion.
“They tested my ACL on the field. It wasn’t that. Then I went to the hospital right from the stadium and got a MRI and they said it was a Grade 2 MCL,” the tight end explained.
Initially, the injury looked scary like it could’ve been a dreaded ACL tear. Had that happened, he would’ve been racing the clock to get ready for Week One. Now he should be fine by the spring or at the latest, training camp in late July.
“Happy that I don’t need surgery. Just need to do a month of rehab.”
Freiermuth avoiding a major knee injury is huge news for the 2023 Steelers. If he suffered any sort of ligament tear, he likely would’ve missed a portion of the 2023 season, and with Zach Gentry set to become an unrestricted free agent, that would’ve left rookies Connor Heyward and Rodrick Williams, who spent the whole season on the practice squad, as the only tight ends under contract. It would’ve made an additional tight end a need for the Steelers, but with Freiermuth just requiring rehab and avoiding a major injury, he’ll slot in once again as the Steelers’ TE1 for Week 1 in 2023.
Freiermuth is coming off a season where he put up a similar number of receptions compared to his rookie year (63 grabs this year compared to 60 last year) but improved on his yardage (732 yards this season vs. 497 yards as a rookie). He’s clearly on an upward trajectory as he becomes more of a downfield threat, and if he continues to grow and develop with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, he could become one of the best tight ends in the league. His 732 yards ranked fifth among tight ends this year, and that’s a number that I wouldn’t be surprised to see improve as he progresses.
The Steelers could have themselves quite the cadre of weapons heading into 2023 with Freiermuth, wide receivers Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and hopefully a fully healthy Calvin Austin III alongside running backs Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris. If the offense continues to play the way they did during the second half of the season and builds off that performance, look out for the Steelers in 2023.