Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Cameron Heyward

Position: Defensive End

Experience: 3 Years

There seems to be less complaining about taking defensive ends in the first round this offseason than there was last offseason. And I have a sneaking suspicion that that may have something to do with Cameron Heyward.

The third-year former first-round draft pick emerged onto the scene in a big way in 2013, playing so well in rotational duty that he leapfrogged Ziggy Hood, another former first-rounder, in the starting lineup after the first month of the season.

Heyward is quickly emerging as a future leader of this team. His teammates are already drawn to his energy and motor on the field, even if he’s not the most extroverted player in the locker room or with the media.

The Miami Dolphins game in the snow in particular comes to mind when speaking about the energy that Heyward brings to the game. He was consistently chasing down runners from behind in that contest, twice swinging them down from behind using their jerseys, and another time offering up a body slam.

Although he didn’t cause any turnovers—though he did recover a fumble—he consistently put his stamp on the Steelers’ defensive efforts. With 59 tackles, five sacks, and seven passes defensed—a number that includes both passes batted at the line and passes defensed in coverage—Heyward seems to be emerging as the true successor to Aaron Smith, which the team badly needs.

The best part about Heyward is that he not only has a higher ceiling than where he currently is, he knows that he can get better, and he is determined to get better. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Heyward yet in his career.

There were times during the season, particularly early on, in which it was clear that Heyward was still learning how to play consistently through so many snaps. His 845 snaps this year blew away his previous high, and there were games in which he hardly came off the field.

The game is gradually slowing down for Heyward, and he’s understanding it more and more. He’s getting a better feel for blocking schemes and how to beat them. He learns from his mistakes not just game-to-game, but play-to-play. And he doesn’t miss many tackles either. Getting Heyward up to speed may have been the most important aspect of the 2013 season.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

    So let me make sure I understand…………. if you give a young guy some game time………….. he might get better?………. You might be able to more accurately evaluate him?…………… It might not take 4 years to find out a guy can play? Let me write this down……….

  • steeltown


  • cencalsteeler

    Let me add that I think he would make a great short yardage goal line back and/or lead blocker as well.

  • Virdin Barzey

    This guy is a stud. Possibly to become a game changer/playmaker. I look forward to seeing him take the next step next season. Pro Bowl level.

  • Ken

    Lets get this guy signed for a long time. He came in with the right attitude his rookie year and now its paying off.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Yup! Some people just need a slap upside the head. I say hurry to get rid of most of the past SB winning players on the team as they are getting old and, barring a miracle, will not contribute to the next Super Bowl win.

    Not Ben, not Polamalu yet, but the others as soon as conceivably possible. Under the cap, letting young guys play, you will quickly get Pro style tape and you will easily decide who stays and who goes.

    And I don;t give a damn if, for example, they decide to get rid of Hood if he wants too much money. 1st rounder? Disappointment? Too bad. Maybe he will succeed elsewhere in a 4-3 system. It’s okay. Just forget about it. Let it go from your mind and move on.

  • Isaac Reveles

    Funny a lot of people wrote him off as a bust and now everyone wants his jersey.

  • SumnerYoung

    I think Cam’s athletic enough to be a goal line area tight end too. Like how the Patriots used to use Vrabel in those kind of situations.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I was thinking more along the lines of carrying the ball or as a fullback near the goal line. I don’t know if he can catch? You’re probably right because he does everything else well. Unfortunately, if he ends up doing all those things well, the Steelers won;t be able to afford him in the future.

    Now if they were well below the cap, they could sign him up now as another year of great play and his price will just go higher.

  • blackandgoldBullion


  • Steve

    Good point !!

  • Josh Knepshield

    I’ve been saying for the last 2 years he was a beast and everyone jumped on me for it.

  • Bradys_Dad

    I love the thought of Cam on one end and Hageman on the other. THAT would change the landscape of things pretty darned quick. Assuming of course that Dick would let him play ………….

  • CrazyTerry

    Should have been a year ago. The coaching staff dropped the ball here in developing heyward faster. Why do I think that? Dulac was filing reports about how lost he looked and that is why he wasn’t getting time. Considering how few snaps he got back in the day, my theory is the coaches were feeding Dulac that info.
    The defensive coaches need to realize in the cap age, and without the benefit of many quality veterans , their patient method of developing players must end.

  • CrazyTerry

    Or the way Cinci does it with one of their D linemen too. Either use him as a blocker or a carrier , whatever he is more suited at.