“Not that it was easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be in terms of being a big adjustment [like] from high school to college,” said Claypool, appearing with former NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez on the 4th & Forever podcast.
Yet there were a couple of cornerbacks that he found especially difficult to play against, with one former first-round pick seemingly head and shoulders above the rest.
“Tre’Davious White was really good,” offered Claypool, referring to the Buffalo Bills star, a two-time Pro Bowler who was named first-team All-Pro in 2019. “And then I would say, [Bradley] Roby with the Texans, he was really good too.”
In fact, Claypool produced little against either the Bills or Texans, getting one catch for 24 yards on four targets against Houston and three catches for 15 yards on six targets versus White & Co.
Yet all in all, Claypool had a monster rookie season, which explains why he was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team and won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, a team award that is given to Pittsburgh’s top rookie.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Chase Claypool’s NFL Coming Out Party
Of course, the game that made NFL observers take notice came in Week 5 of the 2020 season against the Philadelphia Eagles, which earned Claypool AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his record-setting performance.
During Pittsburgh’s 38-29 win over the Eagles, he broke the club’s rookie franchise record for most touchdowns in a game, and also became one of only a handful of rookies (Emmitt Smith, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers and Jim Brown, all Pro Football Hall of Famers) who have scored four TDs in a game.
“It was definitely a good feeling being able to make an instant impact like that,” Claypool said about his rookie season. “I definitely met expectations. I wouldn’t say I exceeded them. But it was definitely a good start for year one as a rookie.”
No Rookie Wall for Chase Claypool
Notably, Claypool believes that the adjustments necessitated by the pandemic might have benefitted him somewhat in the sense that he never really hit the proverbial rookie wall.
“I don’t think I felt it as much because we didn’t have a preseason, which would have been an extra four games for us,” said Claypool. “And then we didn’t have a super long fall camp, which probably would have been pretty grueling. We stayed pretty close to home for our camp at Heinz Field…. With all those things added I think it allowed me to kinda adjust pretty smoothly and I didn’t hit a bad rookie wall, I don’t think.”
As for preparing for his sophomore season, Claypool says he plans to take a vacation in Canada with his family and then begin training with other NFL players at UCLA. He also plans to continue working with former NFL wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh, as he has done in the past.
He figures that will position him to “hopefully be better” and build on his rookie year, which he finished with 62 receptions for 873 yards and nine receiving touchdowns, plus a pair of rushing TDs.
To watch Claypool’s appearance with Sanchez in its entirety, see below:
• Steelers Linked to Top Free Agent Running Back: Report
• Bill Cowher Announces Release of New Memoir, Heart and Steel
• Ex-Steelers QB Kordell Stewart Addresses Old Rumor in Players Tribune Essay
• Terry Bradshaw, Jerome Bettis Star in Frito-Lay Super Bowl Commercial [WATCH]
• Steelers Safety Follows in Le’Veon Bell’s Footsteps, Releases Music Video