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'We're always gonna expect better'

The wide receivers have been playing with effort and playing "well enough," wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard assessed today.

But they can and must be better as it relates to splash plays.

"We haven't, clearly, done enough of that for everybody's liking, including ours," Hilliard maintained.

More will be expected from second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool individually and the unit collectively when the Steelers resume play on Oct. 31 at Cleveland.

Claypool, 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, entered the bye week with 22 catches on 42 targets for 358 yards and one touchdown in five games (he missed the Steelers' 27-17 loss on Oct. 3 at Green Bay with a hamstring injury).

He accounted for 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2020 (nine receiving and two rushing).

Claypool's ability and potential have been on display as a second-year pro, including on a leaping, combat catch over All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White on Sept. 12 at Buffalo, and on a 59-yard, catch-and-run explosion away from All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller initially and past safety Kareem Jackson eventually on Oct. 30 against Denver.

But last Sunday night against Seattle, Claypool was targeted seven times and finished with two receptions for 17 yards.

He was also penalized twice for 20 yards, once for an illegal block and once for offensive pass interference.

The latter flag was thrown on the type of deep shot down the sideline the Steelers will be working to finish with more consistency against the Browns and beyond.

"Every play is different," Hilliard said. "Every ball placement can be different. We work really, really hard in order to try to manufacture plays. Chase is unique with his size and speed and ability to adjust. Sometimes, in situations, you just have to make the play as a guy.

"It's been talked about and addressed. We'll continue to work and more of those plays will come. He's too talented individually and he's counted on by everybody in this building, including himself, to make those plays and he will.

"Chase is about where he needs to be. Again, we need those plays and he knows that, we know that. But he's not the only guy that's been in those situations. Chase is obviously a talented dude. We're counting on him to make that second-year jump. Maybe it hasn't been seen enough for enough people, but we're comfortable where he is with his progression. We're just going to look forward to more splash plays from him individually and the room collectively going forward."

Hilliard isn't displeased with the wide receivers' overall play through the first six games, but nor is he satisfied.

"I say it about every week in the staff meeting, it's never gonna be good enough," he said. "We're always gonna expect better. They're playing hard. They're playing well enough. We need more splash plays. We're gonna continue to work on that.

"We're ramping up everything in terms of what we do. The more the running game comes along, the play-action pass is going to hit better. Individually out there, we need to make more individual plays, being on the same page with the quarterback, which is always a work in progress. We're looking forward to where we're gonna go the rest of the season with that."