We feel very good about Cam Heyward. I think he’s had a very good preseason and training camp. We’re going to feature him in some sub-package football. You’ll see him out there in the game. He’s going to play in a manner in which he’s played in the past. He’s going to get a number of snaps.
While many have criticized Cameron Heyward’s lack of production since he entered the league two years ago (35 tackles and 2.5 sacks combined), Pittsburgh’s coaching staff seems confident enough to provide the now third-year player with extended opportunities to shine this fall.
I for one do not think that it will hurt the Steelers to give Heyward more snaps in sub-package sets during the upcoming regular season either.
Keeping a 35 year-old like Keisel fresh is of the utmost importance, and Heyward showed a knack for getting to the opposing quarterback during his collegiate career at Ohio State (2007-2010: 37.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks). Sub-packages with him and the deceptively quick Steve McLendon as the defensive linemen will provide Pittsburgh’s defensive front with some much needed athleticism and versatility as well.
It will be nothing short of intriguing to see if Heyward can improve in an extended role this fall, particularly because he will be the first defensive end off of the bench if Ziggy Hood or Keisel are ineffective or injured. Moreover, with Hood entering the final season of his rookie contract, the Steelers need to know exactly “what they have” in the former Buckeye defensive lineman.
Pittsburgh could stand to use any extra push and pocket-collapse on third downs, and this would in turn help the defense create some much needed turnovers. So if Heyward can provide the Steelers’ defense with some added sub-package pass-rush this year, then it will definitely help solidify a much-important role for him in Pittsburgh’s defense going forward.
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