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Pat Freiermuth outlines the extent of his knee injury, timeline for his rehab

The talented Steelers tight end spoke about his knee injury in Week 18, and how he was thinking the worse when leaving the field.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

As the Pittsburgh Steelers walked off the Acrisure Stadium field victorious over the Cleveland Browns 28-14, there was a big question surrounding the team. And that question had nothing to do with the team just missing out on a spot in the AFC Playoffs.

No, it had to do with the health of their second year tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Freiermuth exited the game with the Browns with a knee injury and was immediately ruled out of the game. When this happens, it typically isn’t a good sign. After the game Mike Tomlin said Freiermuth’s knee was being evaluated and they’d know more in the coming days. It was the next day, Monday, when news broke of Freiermuth’s knee being a sprained MCL, and not a torn ligament of any kind.

Wednesday Freiermuth was on the Off The Field with Aditi Kinkhabwala podcast, and spoke about the injury, and what he was thinking when he heard a pop on the play.

“They tested my ACL on the field, and it wasn’t that.” Freiermuth recalled. “I went right to the hospital from the stadium, and got an MRI. They said it was a Grade 2 MCL (sprain).

“The whole time I’m thinking, “Do I need surgery? This is going to ruin my offseason.” And I was happy that I don’t need surgery and just need to do a month of rehab.”

One month of rehab, compared to a lengthy surgery and months of rehabilitation, is a welcome sight for Freiermuth. His plans are to go back to his home, and rehab there.

“I’m going to go home tomorrow and start doing rehab back at my gym on Thursday.”

While Freiermuth’s knee will heal on its own, another main cause for concern for the tight end pertains to the number of concussions he’s experienced in his two years as a professional. When asked about the fact Tua Tagovailoa’s family has pressured him to step away from the game due to concussions, Freiermuth acknowledged the difficulty of the decision.

“It’s hard. Obviously, our job is to compete, and when the chance to compete is taken away from us it’s hard to compartmentalize that.

“But it’s tough. Dr. Collins is one of the best in the world when dealing with head injuries, and he has had multiple meetings with my parents and myself. He explained everything to the point where my parents felt comfortable with me and the coaches making the decision.

“It’s about trusting the right people so when you go out there feeling comfortable. Because if you don’t feel comfortable it can lead to other things.”

Freiermuth talked openly about how he wanted to play in the Week 6 game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it was Mike Tomlin who told him he was resting to ensure he was 100% healthy before returning to the field.

Injuries aside, Freiermuth spoke about the 2022 season, and what it was like to just miss out on the playoffs when most viewed them as one of the hottest teams in the league entering Week 18.

“Obviously, the goal is every single season is to win the Super Bowl and make the playoffs. Have the chance to compete for that, but we obviously didn’t do enough at the beginning of the year to make that goal attainable.” said Freiermuth. “Ending the season on a 4-game win streak and 7 of the last 9 feels good. We’re a young offense and a young team at key positions. We are very confident and excited for the future moving forward.”

A lot of the future, and excitement, is based around Kenny Pickett and the progress he showed throughout the regular season. Freiermuth saw the changes in Pickett, and it all started with his confidence.

“He’s more confident.” Freiermuth said of Pickett. “You can see in the first couple games he was playing not to make a mistake, but the mistakes were still happening. Then I don’t know what happened. It’s almost like someone just told him he’s a franchise quarterback and to just go play. And he stopped turning the ball over and started making plays.”

“He became confident in himself, took hold of the offense and did what he needed to do.”

Even if you look at the stats, you can see how Pickett’s game started to evolve. What changed? Is it just confidence, or was it something else?

“Once we started winning games he felt more comfortable being that voice of leadership. As a rookie it’s hard to say things because you have older guys on the team. Mitch [Trubisky] was the guy he [Pickett] felt uncomfortable trying to do his own things when he was in there, but once he [Pickett] became the guy and became more comfortable in that role he was able to do things that he didn’t want to try before, and things started working out for him.”

For the former Penn State tight end, this will be a big offseason for him. Not only to get his body back to full health, but an offseason to work with the young players on the Steelers offense. Pickett and many others have already talked about how this will be the first offseason they’ve all had the opportunity to get together and really work on things throughout the offseason.

‘Confident’ and ‘excited’ were words Freiermuth used to describe the Steelers offense heading into the offseason. Whether they can build on their stellar finish to 2022 will be one of the most important elements to the 2023 season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason, and feel free to check out Freiermuth’s spot on the podcast in the player below.

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