Canadian Chase Claypool was nervous around the Steelers’ face of the franchise to start.
Ben Roethlisberger has been with Pittsburgh since 2004, won two Super Bowls, and commands respect. The rookie receiver had to earn his trust quickly and it has led to production for Claypool.
“He’s a super funny guy in general and he was laid back at first, but when fall camp hit he got a little more serious,” Claypool said on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver.
“At first there was a little bit of anxiety there, I was a little bit anxious each day to make some plays for him. The more plays I made for him the easier it was and he’s just been funny and supportive along the way.”
Claypool leads the Steelers with 375 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns in seven games while averaging a team-high 16.3 yards per catch during the Steelers’ 7-0 start. The first touchdown of his career was an 84-yard score, the longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian-born player in NFL history.
“It’s definitely surreal. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” Claypool said about his instant impact.
The 22-year-old Claypool has shown respect for those who came before him. While emerging as a star at the University of Notre Dame, Claypool wore No. 83 — the same number worn by Steelers’ tight end Heath Miller who played 11 seasons with Roethlisberger from 2005-2015.
“I had heard in an interview that Ben didn’t want people wearing 83, which was my college number, because he had a really good friend who wore 83 on the Steelers for a long time,” Claypool said.
“I thought No. 11 would make it look like I was running faster.”
That speed was on full display at the 2020 NFL Combine, Claypool ran a 4.42 laser-timed forty at six-foot-four and 229 pounds. The Abbotsford, B.C. native was given the nickname “Mapletron” after posting similar testing results to former NFL All-Pro receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. It’s a Canadian spin on the moniker because of Claypool’s roots north of the border.
“A lot of people know I’m from Canada. I’m the Canadian tour guide on the Steelers,” Claypool said.
“There’s a couple guys who ask me a lot of questions about Vancouver specifically because they’re trying to visit because they’ve heard how beautiful it is.”
Much like the views on the west coast, Claypool’s start in the NFL has been awe-inspiring.