The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft and with this now being his third season, he is expected to play a lot more than he has in his first two seasons. Head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the Ohio State product Tuesday during his press conference.
“We feel very good about Cam Heyward,” said Tomlin. “We feel he’s had a very good preseason and training camp. “We’re going to feature in some sub package football, you’ll see him out there in the game. He’s going to play in a manor of which he’s played in the past. He’s going to get a number of snaps.”
In an effort to save wear and tear on the starters along the Steelers defensive line this season, Heyward will likely spell Brett Keisel the most during the season. Over the course of his first two years with the team he has averaged a little over 15 snaps of playing time a game, so that number is bound to go up.
The use of Heyward more in sub packages in 2013 should allow for him to rush the passer more off of the edge. Last season, Heyward registered only 8 total pressures on 144 pass rush attempts, according to Pro Football Focus, so he will definitely have to improve that ratio if he is going to be considered an upgrade over Keisel in that area of his game.
With the possibility that 2013 could be the final year for Keisel with the team, Heyward will be expected to take a big step forward early in the season and the hope is that he will push hard for the starting right defensive end spot sooner rather than later.