Rookie Diaries: Chase Claypool's playoff preparation

It's been a whirlwind season for Chase Claypool as the rookie wide receiver adjusted to life as an NFL player amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

The young Canadian burst onto the scene this year with his athleticism and an uncanny ability to find the end zone for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now he prepares for his first playoff game. The Steelers take on a familiar foe in the Cleveland Browns, who won their Week 17 matchup just last week. Seven days later, the teams square off again — this time at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh as the AFC North champion Steelers earned home-field advantage against their division rivals.

The Steelers are considered heavy favourites even with recent history tilting Cleveland's way. The Week 17 result saw Pittsburgh rest some key players, but the Steelers had already delivered a crushing defeat to the Browns on Oct. 18 (the last time the teams met at Heinz Field). Additionally, the Steelers have dominated this matchup in Pittsburgh — you'd have to go all the way back to 2003 to find a Cleveland "W" in the Steel City.

Looming even larger is the Browns' overall lack of experience in the postseason. This is the first time they've even made the playoffs since the 2002 season, after all.

Perhaps the biggest thing going against Cleveland in Sunday's game is the absence of head coach Kevin Stefanski. The 38-year-old, responsible for leading the Browns to the playoffs after a 17-year drought, will miss the Wild Card game due to COVID-19 protocols.

Claypool told DAZN's Adnan Virk on the latest episode of "Rookie Diaries" that he feels for the Browns given the magnitude of the game.

"I can only imagine if Coach [Mike] Tomlin wasn't at one of our games," Claypool said. "I don't know how the situation is with that coach in the Browns' office, but I'm sure he has a pretty big impact on how players are feeling, [the] routine of the game, play calling and personnel, stuff like that. We're all going through some adjustments but the Browns definitely this week are gonna have to go through some extra hoops to to get their game plan down."

As for the Steelers, Claypool says they are fully focused on the task at hand despite a less-than-stellar finish to the campaign that saw the club drop four of its final five games after starting the season 11-0.

"I think the talk throughout the season — even when we were 8-0, 9-0, 10-0, we were never trying to go undefeated. That was never our goal. Our goal was to play for a Super Bowl, and to do that you'd have to clinch playoffs, put yourself in a good position by winning the division, and we did both those things. So after we got those down we were able to rest our starters [in] Week 17, and now in the playoffs it's win or go home so the stakes are definitely higher but we're excited to keep on playing."

Watch "Chase Claypool's Playoff Preparation" and full episodes of "Rookie Diaries" exclusively on DAZN. Click here to sign up for a free trial.

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