‘Dude, I’m Dead Tired:’ Freiermuth Says He Hit Rookie Wall In 2021

On Friday night, Ben Roethlisberger was guested by Bob Pompeani, Andrew McCutchen, and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth on a special live show of his Footbahlin podcast. While Roethlisberger and Freiermuth only played together for one season, it seems both have stayed close friends.

Despite not winning a playoff game together, Freiermuth’s rookie season played a huge part in helping the Steelers give Roethlisberger one last playoff appearance. On the season, Freiermuth caught 60 passes for 497 yards and seven touchdowns. He ended up becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets due to his reliable hands and ability to get open.

On the podcast which was uploaded to YouTube today, Roethlisberger asked Freiermuth now that he has completed his second year in the NFL, if there was a rookie wall in his first year.

“It was weird for me my rookie year,” Freiermuth said. “I felt like the first couple of games we had Ebron and having him with reps and all that it was good to get adjusted to the game because it is so much faster than college. Then I hit a little strong period, with like the Cleveland game where I scored kind of a series of games of touchdowns. Then I kind of hit a wall [in] early December, maybe. It was hard because it’s Week 12, and there’s still like six more weeks left. You see all these veterans like you, T.J. [Watt], and Cam [Heyward] and them and they’re ramping up to play their best football then. And you’re looking around like, ‘Dude, I’m dead tired. I just want the offseason.’ I remember in the hot tubs in the morning, me and KG [Kendrick Green] would look at each other and be like ‘Bro we still have six more weeks of this.’”

As Freiermuth mentioned he really came on in the middle of the season starting with an insane touchdown catch on fourth down against the Cleveland Browns. From weeks seven to eleven, Freiermuth caught five touchdown passes including a game against the Chicago Bears where he caught two.

After that though, Freiermuth slowed down, only catching one touchdown the rest of the season. Hitting the rookie wall is normal given that college football teams play fewer games than NFL teams and with the NFL Draft process, the season starts end of January for many rookies.

While Freiermuth didn’t put up the touchdown numbers like he did last year, this year was a more complete season for him. Freiermuth finished his second season with 63 catches for 732 yards and two touchdowns. In particular, he really improved on his yards-after-catch ability creating many big plays for the Steelers.

With the rookie wall very clearly being a thing next year should be very interesting for the Steelers. Many of their most important players on the offensive side will be entering either their second or third season and with the rookie wall behind them should be able to really keep up a high level of play throughout the season. With that being the case a run into late January could be possible if the team plays their cards right and the young players continue to improve.

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