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Matt Canada Nearly Ruined Pat Freiermuth for Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers new offensive approach opened every door for their star tight end.

PITTSBURGH -- Heading into their matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, everyone was talking about two players who would benefit the most from the Pittsburgh Steelers' change at offensive coordinator. Those players were Jaylen Warren and George Pickens. But little did we know Pat Freiermuth was just waiting for his opportunity. 

It's hard to imagine this is the same Freiermuth who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers the last two and a half seasons. Everyone was trying to talk about how good the tight end was without seeing the production. Or simply spurts of it. And it was hitting a point where people were starting to question whether or not he was as talented as the tight end rankings or national love said he was. 

Well, he is. Matt Canada just did a great job of keeping him unproductive.

"Pat had an unbelievable game," Kenny Pickett described it afterward. 

The Steelers tight end finished with nine receptions for 120 yards, his first 100-yard game of his NFL career. It started with a catch up the seem on the opening play, kept going with another one up the middle on the second drive, and finished with seven more catches where Freiermuth kept the Pittsburgh offense flowing. 

"Obviously, started off not the way that I wanted to. Got rolling a little bit in the Raiders and then the hamstring came up. So, hopefully, I gotta just continue to stay healthy and build on this performance. Especially as an offense," Freiermuth said after the game. "We got all our pieces together, and we just gotta keep going."

The Steelers' offense did everything they could to allow their tight end to cook. They utilized him in the middle of the field, off the ball, and even in multiple tight end looks. 

"Playing off of what they were showing defensively," Pickett detailed the approach. "It felt like they were showing a lot of middle field open coverages where we need Pat to step up and be big for us, which he was. Having some one-on-one routes to move the chains."

"I think all those guys do different things well," Pickett added on multiple tight end sets. "It’s not just an obvious run structure. I think with Connor (Heyward) and Pat (Freiermuth) and Darnell (Washington), being able to get those guys out in some route concepts and they do a great job, they run great routes. I think each guy had an impact today."

The changes should jumpstart a strong finish for Freiermuth this season and open the door to another level of play from the former second-round pick. 

When the Steelers drafted the Penn State product, they had a plan to make him one of the best tight ends in the NFL. They knew they needed to add pieces around him to help with his limitations as a blocker, and so they did that. 

But now that they've opened up the passing game for him, the ceiling has risen drastically. And maybe Mike Sullivan and Eddie Faulkner just saved Freiermuth's career in Pittsburgh. 

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