A statistic of the odd earlier than Sunday’s sport between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns even begins – 20. The quantity 20.
That is not simply the doubtless spotlight of each groups’ offense at the moment. It is the variety of snaps WRs George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and TE Pat Freiermuth have been on the sphere this season. That quantity will lastly enhance at the moment.
In fact, all twenty images got here in week one. Johnson then injured his hamstring within the opening play of the third quarter and was out till week seven. Freiermuth went down together with his personal hamstring harm in week 4, tried to return with Johnson for week seven, however suffered a setback and was demoted to IR, lacking the next month. He was formally activated yesterday and shall be again this afternoon.
For Mike Tomlin, having Freiermuth means extra than simply having a high weapon for QB Kenny Pickett to throw to. His return opens up all areas of the passing sport. Within the newest episode of his Mike Tomlin PresentHe agreed with host Bob Pompeani that lacking Freiermuth was a serious challenge for the Steelers’ passing sport.
“It is actually necessary,” Tomlin instructed Pompeani. “You discuss matchups on the interior elements of the sphere. Individuals are in a position to play split-safe protection and put a whole lot of strain on our exterior receivers. Steadiness is nice. It’s good for all events concerned. It is good for somebody like Kenny, who has to distribute the ball.”
Previous to his harm, Freiermuth’s utilization was surprisingly low, catching simply eight passes by means of the primary 3.5 video games of the season. His solely saving grace was the pair of touchdowns he caught the few occasions Pittsburgh entered the pink zone early within the season. Together with his return, that ought to change and the Steelers ought to deal with all areas of the sphere. Though injured, the workforce lacked nice inner objectives. WR Allen Robinson does what’s requested of him, a blocking possession receiver who catches the occasional third-down cross, whereas Calvin Austin III hasn’t had a transparent function since Johnson’s return.
It is why Pickett actually had no try in the course of the sphere in final Sunday’s win over the Inexperienced Bay Packers, a statistic that surprised JJ Watt.
It is no secret that Pittsburgh’s energy is passing from the surface. However the Tennessee Titans, for instance, performed a ton of two-high appears towards the Steelers and helped get Johnson and Pickens, although the Packers did not appear to have the identical sport plan.
Nonetheless, there is not any doubt that Freiermuth’s return is a optimistic for the working sport, even when they should work on his run-blocking beneath the road as Pittsburgh’s floor sport has gotten on observe. Freiermuth does not want large numbers, however he might want to make well timed performs on third down, within the pink zone, and probably late in what shall be an in depth sport.