Chase Claypool defends his work ethic and the absence of Diontae Johnson

NFL, NFL Offseason, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool fired back at critiques of his work ethic and assumptions about Diontae Johnson, who is not at OTAs.

The 2021 season ended on a sour note for Chase Claypool, who was blasted by the NFL world for celebrating a catch as the seconds dwindled down in a critical game. Perhaps no one was as harsh as former Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who called Claypool “mentally and emotionally underdeveloped.”

Claypool is back on the field at OTAs and is ready to prove doubters wrong. For the first time, according to Claypool, younger players are looking up to him as a leader on the team.

“I feel like it’s the first time on the Steelers that my voice is being actively heard, and I’m taking that seriously,” Claypool told 97.3 The Fan. “I’m trying to help the young guys because I was there last year and two years ago.”

Claypool also offered insight into the Diontae Johnson contract negotiation situation. Johnson hasn’t shown up for OTAs, but Claypool insisted that this wasn’t a cause for concern.

“I know Diontae’s grinding, wherever he is,” Claypool said. “I know a lot of people are looking into it, but I don’t look into it too much because he’s perfecting his craft and he’s going to ball out.”

“I don’t think it’s a big deal [that he’s not here],” Claypool said. “I know people will make it a big deal because they need clicks and stuff, but it’s not a big deal. We’re gonna get work in in the offseason.”

Chase Claypool opens up about leadership, doubt, and Diontae Johnson

Claypool commented on what it was like building chemistry with Mitch Trubisky and the quarterback group, especially with veterans like Ben Roethlisberger and Juju Smith-Schuster now gone.

But of course, the biggest point of conversation was about how Claypool feels about his 2021 season. The wideout was widely criticized for his work ethic last year, although as one reporter pointed out, his numbers in his second season were nearly the same as the first aside from scoring fewer touchdowns.

“Ups and downs,” Claypool said of his 2021 season. “I know a lot of people are going to say I was terrible, but there were some good things, some bad things, and we learned from the bad things to make the good things better.

“I always try to be the best receiver in the league,” Claypool continued. “People spin it like I don’t care, but I do care, and I do work my a** off every day, and I’ll keep doing that until I’m the best receiver in the league.”

As far as working on the bad, the 23-year-old wideout already has some goals in mind. Claypool said that in 2022, he wants to work on staying on his feet on 50/50 balls, getting more PAC, and eliminating dropped passes.

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