Freiermuth had a tremendous 2021 season, but even Freiermuth would admit after the season he had a lot to work on heading into the 2022 regular season. For the former Penn State standout, his work started in the weight room this past offseason.
“My trainer back home, him and I got after it this offseason,” said Freiermuth following an OTA session last week. “I worked hard this offseason to put some muscle on my upper body. That was my biggest thing last year, something I definitely wanted to work on.”
With Freiermuth trying to bulk up, you would think he would be heavier, right? After all, the media has made a huge deal over Najee Harris’ weight heading into mandatory minicamp. But Freiermuth admits even though he has gotten bigger, and stronger, he is actually lighter heading into his sophomore season.
“I’m actually lighter than I was last year. I am bigger, but lighter,” said Freiermuth. “I was definitely beat up at the end of last season.”
Outside of strength, what does Freiermuth believe are areas of his game he needs to address? It wasn’t as if his rookie year wasn’t good, but there is always aspects of your game which can improve.
“I showed some good things last year, but I think just taking my game to the next level and be more consistent in the run game and pass pro. In the offseason I really went after it. Coach T threw a challenge my way and I went after it.”
A common term used by the media for rookie players is the proverbial “rookie wall” when the NFL calendar goes from fall to winter. College players aren’t used to 17-game regular seasons, and playoffs on top of that. It is an entirely different type of conditioning which goes into it. Freiermuth, and his fellow rookies, learned this the hard way.
“We learned throughout the season that it’s a long season,” said Freiermuth. “The benefit of putting on more muscle weight, it’s going to last throughout the season and we’re not going to feel as beat up later in the season. That is one of the things I learned from the vets, about how serious they take their bodies in the season and offseason, keeping the muscle on.”
When Freiermuth was asked specifically what he wants to improve upon in 2022 he said he wants to bump up his yards per average next year.
“I think my yards per average was atrocious. In my opinion, 8.2 yards, that is pretty bad on my end,” said Freiermuth. “I think if I have 60 catches, I should be more in the range of 800-900 yards. I think I definitely need to get that higher and maybe we push the ball downfield more this year.”
A lot of Freiermuth’s success will be dictated by who is throwing him the football. Whether it is Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or Kenny Pickett, will the quarterback and the offense call on Freiermuth in those critical times/areas?
That has yet to be determined, but I think it’s safe to say Freiermuth has put in the work this offseason to transform not just his body, but his game.
Could Freiermuth have a huge sophomore jump? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the last day of mandatory minicamp and eventually training camp.