Big Ben wants to see Canadian Chase Claypool ‘rise to the occasion’ with increased attention

Photo courtesy: Jared Wickerham/Pittsburgh Steelers

Everyone in the NFL now knows about Chase Claypool and what he’s capable of on the football field.

Claypool scored a touchdown in each quarter for the Steelers in a historic outing against the Eagles during Week 5 of the 2020 season. He became the first Canadian to score four touchdowns in a single NFL game and earned American Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week honours in the process.

“Confidence definitely builds with games like that, but I’m not trying to act any different because of a performance, I think that’s when you stop being humble,” Claypool said in a video conference.

“It’s definitely an achievement that I’ll remember, but it doesn’t really affect my mindset. You gotta enjoy it for a little bit and then forget about it so you can focus on what you’re doing and prepare for the Browns.”

Claypool was the focal point of the Steelers’ offensive game plan, using him as a rusher and receiver. He finished with seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns to go along with three rushes for six yards and one touchdown. Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner had Claypool at wide out and in the slot — it’s rare for a physically imposing pass catcher to line-up on the inside.

“I put enough film up at Notre Dame in the slot for the Steelers to trust me at that position. They got creative minds there on the offensive side, so they’re always trying to move guys around to make it difficult for the defence to pick up on,” Claypool said.

Claypool joins current teammates quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster as the only Pittsburgh rookies to ever win Offensive Player of the Week. The Steelers’ No. 1 target has helped Claypool develop to the point where he’s become an instant difference-maker as a rookie.

“That’s my favourite thing about JuJu is that he is the least cut-throat person I have ever met. He gets just as excited at someone else’s success as he does his own. That’s just the guy that JuJu is — helping his teammates around him capitalize on every opportunity,” Claypool said.

Smith-Schuster is used to seeing extra attention from NFL defences and that same treatment is surely coming for Claypool. He expects a safety to be creeping over to his side of the field in future games. The franchise quarterback wants to see Claypool keep making plays even if defences are scheming to stop him. 

“The thing I told him after the game is he’s not going to be able to sneak up on anybody,” Roethlisberger said. “So how is he going to rise to the occasion now that people are going to be watching him?”

The answer will come in Week 6 versus Cleveland and during the 12 remaining regular season games on the Steelers’ schedule.