ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on November 15 that the Steelers are opening the tight end’s 21-day practice window. With that decision, the team will have three weeks to active Freiermuth onto the 53-man roster.
However, the expectation is he will make his full return much sooner. Schefter also tweeted that Freiermuth is trending toward dressing in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns.
“Steelers are opening the 21-day practice window on TE Pat Freiermuth and he is tracking to play Sunday against the Browns, per sources,” Schefter wrote on X (formerly Twitter)
This positive news came a day after Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin shared an optimistic update on the tight end during a press conference with reporters.
“We’ll watch him go through the week and look at the quality of his work and the amount of it and how he feels and let that be a determining factor,” Tomlin said on November 14. “But, feel good about his potential availability.”
The Steelers have gone 4-1 without Freiermuth this season. But, his presence in the offense has been badly missed.
In 16 games last season, Freiermuth had 63 receptions, 732 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth ‘Tracking’ Toward Returning in Week 11
The 25-year-old dealt with injuries during his first two NFL seasons, but he never missed more than one game in 2021 or 2022.
Because of the timing of Pittsburgh’s bye week, though, it appeared Freiermuth was going to keep his tradition of only missing one game. He practiced on October 18 and 19 in preparation for the Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reported when Freiermuth first suffered his hamstring injury in Week 4 that he would miss 2-3 weeks.
On November 19, it will have been seven weeks since Freiermuth played.
How Badly QB Kenny Pickett Misses Freiermuth
Although the Steelers have continued to find ways to win, it’s pretty obvious that not having Freiermuth has left a big hole in the team’s offense.
Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett hasn’t utilized the middle of the field much without his starting tight end. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly tweeted on November 15 that only five teams have targeted the middle of the field with passes fewer times than the Steelers have this season.
In parts of four games, Freiermuth has 8 receptions for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite missing five contests, Freiermuth has scored 2 of the team’s 7 receiving touchdowns this season, and he trails wide receiver George Pickens by just 1 touchdown.
The Steelers will face the Browns in a pivotal AFC North showdown at 1 pm ET on November 19.