Offensive rookies have fingerprints all over Steelers' win over Browns

CHRIS ADAMSKI
The (Greensburg) Tribune Review (TNS)
Pat Freiermuth

CLEVELAND — Each of the Pittsburgh Steelers' touchdowns during Sunday's 15-10 win at the Browns was scored by a rookie.

Each was made possible by two other members of the Steelers' draft class.

The careers of the Steelers' 2021 rookie class are just beginning, but already the group is making quite an impact.

"We've all talked quite a bit about their maturation throughout this process," coach Mike Tomlin said of his rookies. "We've got four rookies playing significant roles on our offense. It wasn't smooth sledding early on. We have seen consistent signs of improvement. Maybe you guys (in media) will start to believe us."

First-round running back Najee Harris had 120 yards from scrimmage and an 8-yard touchdown run Sunday.

Second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth had four catches for 44 yards and an remarkable, juggling 2-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. Harris also complimented Freiermuth for a key block that helped spring his TD run, but also praised an offensive line that includes rookies at center (third-rounder Kendrick Green) and left tackle (fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr.).

Najee Harris

"We are playing big-time football," Freiermuth said. "We all played at big-time (college programs), though, so we are used to big-time games, and I think we've just continued to build confidence each week, and coach Tomlin does a great job in practice to make us feel comfortable with the gameplan and anything like that."

Harris leads NFL rookie running backs in rushing yards (479) and rushing TDs (three). His 479 rushing yards, 37 receptions and 752 yards from scrimmage are the most for a running back through seven games in franchise history.

Freiermuth is second among NFL rookie tight ends in receptions (22) and receiving yards (202) and is the only one with two touchdowns. Freiermuth's 22 receptions and 204 receiving yards are the second-most by a rookie tight end in franchise history through seven games.

The 25 starts the Steelers have gotten from rookies on offense are the most in the NFL.

"They all are really making — me too — a lot of good strides forward," Harris said.

"The more games we play, the more experience we get, the better that we get each game. I could not be more proud of (Green and Moore) and the O-line and how good they are doing in improving, but really all of us (rookies) actually on offense."