Although Cameron Heyward was an enormous question mark at the beginning of the year, the former first round pick has apparently earned the starting nod at the left defensive end position for this Sunday’s game according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
Heyward’s play during Pittsburgh’s first four games has been solid, and head coach Mike Tomlin had this to say about the move:
He will play more and deservedly so, … He has played really solid. Not taking anything away from Ziggy [Hood], both guys will continue to play. We just want Cam to play more than he has been playing and in order to ensure that we are going to put him in the starting lineup.
To his credit, Heyward has had his best season so far for the Steelers. Currently, the former Ohio State Buckeye ranks second on the team in quarterback pressures (nine). In addition, Heyward has also racked up six tackles and batted down two passes during the first quarter of the 2013 regular season.
With Heyward set to start, Ziggy Hood will conversely lose playing time in the process. Now in the final season of his rookie deal, Pittsburgh’s 2009 first round pick will now be forced to fight for his starting gig back over the final 12 games.
If Hood is unable to produce or Heyward finally realizes his potential as a starter, then the cap-strapped Steelers could very well allow the former Missouri Tiger to walk this offseason as a free agent.
Heyward in turn has a golden opportunity to unseat Hood and earn a second contract for himself, so the competition between the two down the stretch should be interesting to watch.
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