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Evaluating the rising expectations for Chase Claypool in 2020

Chase Claypool’s name has become synonymous with the 2020 edition of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. Yes, the number of players who “look great” at this point is higher than the number of players who will actually look great once real game action comes around, but at some point we have to take notice of the rave reviews for a player like Claypool — particularly when that player is a rookie in a shortened offseason. Many first-year players are understandably behind the curve, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Notre Dame product. 

Here are just a few of the endorsements Claypool has received over the past few months:

Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard“If Chase does what we expect him to do, and that’s make plays early and often, Chase is going to play a lot and he’s going to be really good. … I learned that about Terry McLaurin. The world expected him to be a special teams player, and he ended up being our No. 1 last year.” (Hilliard was the wide receivers coach for Washington last season.)

Ben Roethlisberger on Claypool in a recent media session: “He’s just making plays. I think the plays that he’s making are impressive, but I think, to me, what’s more impressive is that he doesn’t ask a lot of questions, which means he knows his stuff. I can change a play with a hand signal or call a different play at the line of scrimmage, and he — I always check him like, ‘Are you good?' — he’s like ‘I got it.'”

Joe Haden on Claypool via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: “He’s had a couple plays against me this camp. I’ve lined up against him often. He’s a big, fast receiver who’s able to adjust to the ball in the air. He hasn’t shown me anything too bad. … As long as he keeps healthy, I think he’s going to be a problem.” 

The Athletic's Mark Kaboly: “Some reporters are getting criticized for constantly writing good things about Claypool. … Claypool just keeps showing up, so I’m going to keep writing about him. I thought for sure he’d be hampered by not having an offseason. So far, I’ve been wrong.”

The list goes on. It's clear that Claypool has impressed his teammates, coaches and the beat writers who have been present at practice to the point that it’s naive at best to think he won’t have a role on this offense. It’s time to take a look at what that role might be. 

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