Through the first two games of the 2013 season, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward has been credited with two total tackles, two passes defensed and four quarterback pressures in 63 snaps played. While that might not be an eye-popping stat line, it’s important to remember how he’s being used.
Prior to the season starting, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Heyward would be featured in sub packages and he did not tell a lie. According to our charting of the first two games, 46 of Heyward’s 63 snaps have come as part of a sub package and 27 have come on third downs.
Using Heyward in those situations will lead to less tackles for him, but the hope is that he will make up for it in pressures and hurries.
Heyward has rushed the passer 41 times in 63 snaps and hasn’t dropped into coverage once. When he is on the field, offenses know that he is coming. When you consider he has made his mark on six plays as a pass rusher, that’s once every seven times and not totally awful.
42 of Heywards 63 snaps have come on the left side as he has predominantly replaced Ziggy Hood on defense and not Brett Keisel.
Against the Chicago Bears Sunday night, the Steelers will need a big game out Heyward as a pass rusher if he indeed continues to rotate in the way he has thus far. The Steelers have only recorded one sack in their first two games, so look for the Ohio State product to get home for one this weekend.