Former Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward has some tough criticism for Bears WR Chase Claypool.
“He needs to grow up a little bit,” Ward said on a recent episode of “Steelers Talk” by Chat Sports.
“Sometimes I think with Chase, it became more about Chase and less about the team. I’ve always believed the team comes first, before any individual accolades or anything like that… I want receivers that want the ball. I don’t want receivers that don’t want the ball, but you need to do it in the confinements of the aspect of the team.”
Ward knows a thing or two about what it takes to become a championship-caliber wide receiver, considering he was one of the best receivers in Steelers history and won two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh. Ward spent his entire 14-season career with the Steelers and caught 1,000 balls for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. In addition to the two rings and one Super Bowl MVP, Ward was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. So it’s worth noting when Ward criticizes Claypool, and also when he says he believes Claypool has the ability to take hisー and the Bears’ー game to the next level.
“Just from the outside looking in, very talented,” Ward said. “The size alone, speed, catch radius and his athleticism, you’re just like, manー you just open your mouth like, wow, this kid has everything that you want in a wide receiver.
“He’s still a talented wide receiver and hopefully with Justin Fields, who’s a Georgia boy, I’m looking for big things out of Chase to help him in his development and give him the playmaker that he needs outside.”
The Bears traded a 2023 second-round pick to the Steelers for Claypool partway through last season. It took some time for Claypool to work his way into the Bears offense, but it looked like he was set to break through with a big game in Week 13 against the Packers. Claypool had five catches for 28 yards, but hurt his knee. He managed to finish the game that week, but was inactive for the next two. Claypool and Fields never got back on track after that.
As things stand, Claypool will enter the 2023 season with a chance to be the Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver, along with Darnell Mooney.