Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth said he would return from his hamstring injury for the Steelers’ Week Seven game against the Los Angeles Rams. While Freiermuth has had minimal production when healthy this season, with just eight catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns in four games played (he left the Texans game early with an injury), the Rams could be the perfect opponent to get Freiermuth more involved.
Los Angeles is allowing 32 receptions for 414 yards and three touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, and that yardage is the third-highest allowed to tight ends in the NFL.
In Week Five, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to get their tight end, Dallas Goedert, going against the Rams. Goedert entered the Week Five contest with just 13 receptions for 88 yards and no touchdowns. Against the Rams, however, Goedert had eight receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown in a Philadelphia victory.
In Week Six, the Arizona Cardinals got TE Trey McBride going after a slow start to the season against the Rams, as well. McBride was a second-round pick by Arizona in the 2022 NFL Draft, and while he’s behind Zach Ertz on the depth chart, he’s a player Arizona likely wants to feature more in their passing game. Before Arizona took on the Rams in Week Six, McBride had just eight receptions for 79 yards. Against the Rams, he had four catches for 62 yards.
With Freiermuth healthy, he should be a featured component of Pittsburgh’s passing game. The Rams have allowed a lot of long receptions to tight ends this season (Mo Alie-Cox had a 35-yard reception against the Rams, McBride had a 27-yard reception, and Goedert had a 48-yard reception). The Steelers should look to take a shot to Freiermuth up the seam against Los Angeles and help him rebound after a slow start to the year.
Not only will it get Freiermuth’s confidence going, but it should also help out QB Kenny Pickett, who’s had a slow start to the 2023 season as well. Covering tight ends is clearly a weakness for the Rams, and it’s one that the Steelers should exploit.
Freiermuth’s slow start is more due to lack of involvement instead of lack of talent, as he had 60 or more receptions in the first two seasons of his career. He should be another weapon in Pittsburgh’s passing attack, but it just hasn’t happened so far this season. Coming back healthy against the Rams should help get his season untracked if the Steelers can utilize him properly.