A few days ago, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel was asked what he\'s looking for this season out of third-year defensive end Cameron Heyward, and he said the biggest thing was that the Ohio State product just needs to be more consistent and take the next step.
Heyward figures to indeed get plenty of chances to take that next step in 2013 and Friday on Movin\' The Chains, he said he feels he\'s progressed quite a bit now.
"I think it\'s not more of assignment things anymore, its more of now I can read and dissect the offense, so I can see tendencies and see what they\'re favoring and formations," said Heyward. "So overall it\'s just going to help us. And just going over plays, you can never get too much refreshment."
Heyward has said in previous interviews that he spent a lot time at the team facility this offseason and the results were noticeable when he arrived at Latrobe for training camp. Head coach Mike Tomlin also admitted Friday night that he noticed the effort that his young defensive end has put in this offseason.
"Obviously he\'s got to grow and develop as a young guy in particularly in our scheme, what we put on our defensive linemen from a technique standpoint," said Tomlin. "He\'s embraced that. If I had to describe him, he\'s been a poster boy of our offseason program. He spent more time in that building than probably anyone on our football team. Generally, that pays off for guys, particularly for guys who are as football smart and dedicated as Cam.
"Cam\'s got a desire to be great and every time we snap the ball, he\'s going to have an opportunity to get better and display his skills, and I think everyone\'s excited about him and where he\'s going."
With Keisel heading into what could be his final year in Pittsburgh, the Steelers need Heyward to show he can take over the right outside spot. You would have to think they would like that to happen sometime during the season, if possible. Heyward has only played just over 500 snaps during his first two seasons in the league, so he figures to at least equal that amount in 2013.
It was reported last week that Heyward came to training camp at 295 pounds, which was nearly 20 pounds less than last year. Tomlin, however, disputed that Friday night, but in a good way.
"Actually, he\'s heavier than he\'s been, but his body fat is down," said Tomlin. "So you\'re talking about lean muscle mass. You know we put those guys in a bodpod and so forth. He\'s probably up three or four pounds, but his body-fat percentage is down, so he\'s doing the right thing."
Hopefully Heyward will be allowed to show he can do the right thing on the field in 2013 as well.