By Matthew Marczi
So much of the breakout year by Cameron Heyward during the 2013 season has already been exhaustively documented, both by us and by others. His emergence into the starting lineup injected some life into a stagnating defense that had already lost its bearings with Larry Foote being lost in the first week of the season.
Something that hasn’t been documented as well, however, is Heyward’s emergence within the team dynamic as a young leader of the defensive line, and the defense as a whole—that is until now.
The NFL Network had Heyward wired up for the Pittsburgh Steelers’s season finale against the Cleveland Browns for their Sound FX series, and it was quite telling as to how he has transformed into a leader on this team.
He barks out his keys and tells his teammates how to react to what the offense is doing. He encourages his younger teammates. He even challenges the Browns to go for it again on fourth down.
There are so many quotables from this segment, as when he gives feedback to Jarvis Jones after making a play—presumably his pass deflection: “Good job! I see you Jarvis! You’re waking up today, ain’t you?”
Nothing speaks more to his leadership, however, than simply his hustle and his determination. At one point during the game, he tripped up just before reaching Jason Campbell, missing an opportunity to get a sack.
As the segment now reveals, he spent the Steelers’ offensive series excoriating himself on the bench, imploring himself to “finish” next time, repeating it over and over like a mantra.
Later on in the game, he did finish, reaching his hand out and sacking Campbell, all the while being held by Joe Thomas on the play.
It’s the end of the video though that tells you everything you need to know about Cameron Heyward. As the game concludes with a commanding victory for the Steelers, Heyward stands on the sideline, hands on his hips, sighing and looking disgusted as he reflects on what might be, and what could have been.
Coach Mike Tomlin walks by and tells Heyward to get that look off his face. When nothing changes in his expression, Tomlin asks Heyward “what”. His revealing response: “I want one more”.
That is the kind of player that becomes a leader on a team, whether he wants to or not. His hunger and his energy is infectious, and the rest of the defense feeds off that. When they see him chasing a running back down the field and swinging him to the ground by his jersey, his teammates know that they can’t lollygag. The Sound FX segment is a powerful look into the mindset of an emerging force, and is essential viewing for anybody that follows the Pittsburgh Steelers.
[flv:http://ll.video.nfl.com/films/s2013/nflcom/w17/140101_nfln_soundfx_wk_17_cam_heyward_500k.mp4 575 323]