Year one in the National Football League is in the books for Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool, and the former Panthers football star’s Pittsburgh Steelers club is one of 14 teams competing in the playoffs.
Claypool finished his debut season with 62 catches for 873 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He also added two rushing touchdowns.
The Steelers won the AFC North division and finished with a record of 12-4, but stumbled down the stretch and lost three of their final four games.
Pittsburgh ended the season on Sunday, losing 24-22 to the Cleveland Browns. Claypool scored one touchdown in the loss. The Steelers open the NFL playoffs on Sunday when they host the Browns in the wild card round. That game kicks off at 5:15 p.m. Abbotsford time.
Claypool led the Steelers in total touchdowns (11) and was third on the team in receiving yards. His outstanding rookie season saw him a new Steelers record for receptions by a rookie and tied a club record for most touchdowns by a rookie.
The Abbotsford native’s numbers were also historically great for a Canadian, as he has the fourth highest-ever amount of receptions, second best in total receiving yards, and tied for first in touchdowns. Nate Burleson’s 2004 season with the Minnesota is the only time a Canadian has caught for 1,000 yards or more. Burleson also holds the record for most receptions by a Canadian with 73 in 2011 and his 2007 season saw the Calgary native score 11 touchdowns.
Claypool’s strong play saw him earn the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers top rookie last week.
The award is presented annually by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. Past notable winners of the award include: Kordell Stewart (1995), Troy Polamalu (2003), Ben Roethlisberger (2004) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017).
It’s likely he will get some recognition as a top rookie, but the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year is expected to go to quarterback Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Claypool caught his first pass on Sept. 14 against the New York Giants and scored his first touchdown on Sept. 20 against the Denver Broncos. He caught fire on Oct. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, with three receiving and one rushing touchdown. He is the only Canadian and first Steeler to achieve that feat.
If successful on Sunday, the Steelers would advance to the divisional round scheduled for the following weekend.