Weekly Bold Prediction: Chase Claypool scores first career TD

When going bold, why not go the boldest you can?

In Monday night’s game, Chase Claypool opened everyone’s eyes with a catch that was reminiscent of Ben Roethlisberger connecting with Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII.

This Sunday in the Steelers home opener against the Denver Broncos, I feel the Claypool is going to get his first career touchdown. Here’s why.

I understand that rookies have an uphill battle in getting on the field within the Steelers organization. Even players such as Martavis Bryant had to wait six or seven weeks to even see some playing time.

That hasn’t been the case, as of late, with Pittsburgh. While James Washington and Diontae Johnson bided their time more in line with previous receivers, Claypool looks to be on the same trajectory as JuJu Smith-Schuster.

In his rookie season, Smith-Schuster played right out of the gate in Week 1, logging 25 offensive snaps (42%), but no receptions (and no rushes).

In his second career game, JuJu’s playing time increased to 38 snaps (51%). He caught 3 passes for 16 yards – and a touchdown.

Claypool quietly played 30% of the Steelers offensive plays on Monday (19 snaps). I’m looking for an increase in playing time and perhaps even an increase in confidence from his teammates after his toe-tap catch and awesome game-sealing end-around play the other night.

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There could be some arguments as to the number of mouths to feed in the Steelers offense, but that was truer of the 2017 team with JuJu’s specific situation. At the time Pittsburgh had both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on their roster. Brown had been setting unheard of records for receptions and receiving yards at the time, while the Steelers “WR2” was actually RB Le’Veon Bell, who perpetually came in second in team receptions to AB.

While there’s some competition for targets in 2020, we’re looking at a season one year removed from an anemic Steelers offense where Smith-Schuster regressed. Johnson and Washington both look to emerge as threats, and rightfully so, but I believe the Steelers will be integrating the fast and physical Claypool into their packages sooner rather than later.

That’s why I see Claypool snagging his first career touchdown this Sunday. He may only see 3 or 4 receptions, and maybe a baseline of around 50 yards receiving – so my expectations are tempered. However, against a struggling Broncos defense and a secondary now lacking their top cornerback (A.J. Bouye), Denver will be hard-pressed to cover all of the Steelers offensive weapons.

Claypool will benefit from the attention given elsewhere, to the likes of Smith-Schuster or one of the tight ends – and get his first football (hopefully of many to come) to put in his trophy room at home.

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