One of the first signs of maturity for Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Chase Claypool was today after practice on the South Side. He knows it, and everyone around him knows it that the Steelers offensive unit needs leaders. With Ben Roethlisberger, and JuJu Smith-Schuster gone, the time is now for Claypool.
The biggest obstacle for Claypool hasn’t been his ability on the field, but his mental ability on the field. Some would also claim that his off the field behavior with his ‘brand’ has also been an issue. But those things are often overblown. Look at Smith-Schuster who loves his brand, but here everyone is talking about how much the Steelers locker room is missing in the leadership department because he’s gone.
We know that Najee Harris is going to be a leader on offense. He will likely be the offensive captain when the voting takes place late in the summer. TJ Watt spoke yesterday about what Harris brings to the table.
On the offensive line, new guard James Daniels appears poised to step into a leadership role with an extremely young and inexperienced unit.
But from there, who else is going to step up? Diontae Johnson isn’t at OTA’s and hasn’t been around at all this off-season to meet his new teammates. He’s currently looking for a new contract and while he’s surely working his butt off wherever he’s located, it would be better if he was in town. The highest paid offensive player is Derek Watt and he’s hardly ever on the field for offensive plays. After that, who? Pat Freiermuth will surely lead with his play, but being vocal isn’t something we should expect from him. Think more Heath Miller.
So it has to be Claypool. And he’s all for it. He was asked about being a leader and if he’s now filling the void with everyone gone:
“Yes, I think it’s the first time on the Steelers where I felt like you know, my voice is being actively heard and I’m taking that seriously,” Claypool said after practice. “So I’m trying to try to help the young guys because I was there last year and two years ago.”
He was then asked if he’s grown into that position on the team:
“For sure, yeah. I loved growing at Notre Dame. When I first went to Notre Dame, I wasn’t that guy. But I became that guy. Same thing here.”
He was also asked if it was important that he showed up to voluntary workouts:
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, everyone’s here, I didn’t want to be at home and these guys are getting reps together, so I thought it was important.”
Claypool continues to do and say the right things. Now time will tell if he can put his new attitude to work on the field and do the right things. There isn’t going to be room on this 2022 team for mental mistakes. There won’t be any Roethlisberger fourth quarter magic. They’re going to need to be on top of things from the first play to the last.