Breaking Down The Playing Time Steelers DE Cameron Heyward Received In 2012

With Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward being a talking point today, a reader has asked me via email if I have a breakdown of his snaps last year as it relates to which side that he played on.

I have now pulled that data from our game charting from last year and here is the breakdown.

Of the 260 non penalty snaps that Heyward played in 2012; 126 of them included him playing on the left side, while 134 of them, we had him playing on the right side of the defensive line.

As you can clearly see, Heyward\’s playing time was pretty much balanced as to what side of the line he played on and that balance also carried over to the sub packages as 87 of the total plays included him being in on either nickel or dime packages.

The 2012 season started off very unbalanced for Heyward as far as the side that he played on, however, as through the first five games, we have him playing 48 snaps on the right as opposed to only 11 on the left. 4 of those 11 left side snaps were when the Steelers defense used the big nickel front against the New York Jets.

While Heyward\’s total snap count last season wasn\’t very high, it could have been much lower. In the Week 11 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Heyward saw a lot of playing time due to Ziggy Hood being forced from the game with a lower back injury. In addition, Heyward also saw a good chunk of playing time; 40 non penalty snaps, in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns after Brett Keisel left with a knee injury.

As I mentioned in a previous post during the offseason, I for one will be very surprised if Heyward wins a starting job out of training camp despite the fact that several of the beat writers suggest that he will.

The Steelers aren\’t very deep at the defensive end position and that lack of depth currently extends into next year as well, as both Keisel and Hood aren\’t currently under contract for 2014. Should Hood get an extension during the upcoming training camp, he most likely will receive one because the team views him as a starter moving forward.

Heyward, in my opinion, will start off the 2013 season backing up both Hood and Keisel with the hope that he can overtake the latter of the two by the end of the year. Keep in mind that the Steelers hold a fifth-year option with Heyward after his rookie contract expires following the 2014 season, so it\’s not like he is going anywhere anytime soon.