Darrius Heyward-Bey Looking To Help Young Receivers

We have already spent a fair portion of this offseason dissecting the struggles that have plagued wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey throughout most of his career, which can be primarily traced back to his tendency to drop footballs.

It helped get him benched by the end of last season during his one year with the Indianapolis Colts, despite the fact that they were receiver-starved with Reggie Wayne missing the majority of the season with a torn ACL.

But he comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a (relatively) clean slate, having been brought in as a depth signing, with no actual guarantees to make the roster.

He said himself that he came to the Steelers because he saw it as an opportunity for him to “continue to play football”. Which explains why a former top-10 draft pick five years into his career signing for veteran-minimum for a non-starting opportunity.

So we now approach Heyward-Bey free of expectations, and consider anything that he gives to the team this year as a bonus.

What he does bring with him is 169 career receptions, 2380 yards, and 12 touchdowns. On a more physical note, he brings a 6’2” frame and exceptional speed, which is why the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the first round to begin with.

At the end of last season, after his benching, he proved with the Colts that he can also contribute on special teams and as a run blocker, which are two strong assets for a bottom of the roster candidate to possess, to go along with his physical assets.

Even though he’s older and more experienced, he understands that, with the Steelers, everybody falls in line behind Antonio Brown, who in four seasons has made two trips to the Pro Bowl, and earned a second-team All-Pro designation last season.

Never the less, he sees himself and Lance Moore as veterans as well, despite the fact that both are new to the team as of the past two months.

While Brown is at the top of the food chain at wide receiver, Heyward-Bey sees himself and Moore as the experienced players that they are, and he believes that they can help the younger receivers along, which, after the draft, figures to add at least one more to the ranks.

“(Brown) is a great player, a Pro Bowler. We respect him. He’s going to go out there and ball. He’s our leader. But me and Lance Moore have been in the league a long time, we are going to follow him and have the young guys follow us, and kind of do it that way”.

Though not much is expected of him, it’s good to hear Heyward-Bey speak about a willingness and desire to contribute his knowledge to the younger players on the team.

While he may have had his struggles with drops in the past, you don’t last this long in the league—even as a former first-rounder—if you can’t play. He’s a player who loves the sport, and he’s got a clean record off the field. Even if he ultimately contributes little, he could be a good influence for the team, particularly the young receivers.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • treeher

    Ben throws hardball. Gonna be interesting to see if he can deal with it.

  • Smashmouth

    IMO he can mainly teach the new guys that no matter if your a first round pick or not if you don’t hone your craft you’ll wind up playing a lot less football for a lot less money

  • srdan

    The truth is that he made more money than 90% of the receivers in league history due to his rookie contract.

  • Smashmouth

    i agree totally, but i’m saying is now he’s playing for league minimum despite all the hype about his speed he’s never got better at catching the football and wound up benched last year for lack of production

  • srdan

    Yeah, I agree with you bud.

  • dkoy85

    Brown is a perfect example of this as well, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. I like what Brown, Moore, and H-B bring to the table, and with Wheaton’s willingness to learn, we shouldn’t skip a beat from last year.

  • Jacque Strappe

    I’d be shocked if he made the roster.

  • srdan

    I’d be shocked if he didn’t

  • Jacque Strappe

    I think he’s going to have to prove he’s a viable candidate to be in the mix of the top 4 guys or he’s gone. He’s not returning punts or kicks, he can’t catch em. He may be a gunner, but there are going to be young guys who can do the same thing while grooming in their respective positions. Bottom line IMO is that he can’t catch the football. And in his job description, catching the football is in red letters.

  • srdan

    I see your point.

    And youre probably more along the line of what the team is thinking than I am IMO. But speed can’t be coached. And even if Ike played WR with his hands, it’s not like you can just cover him with a slow safety with Ike streaking down teh field 10 plays a game. Those are odds that no DC will play. You need a fast corner on him that then can’t cover AB or wheaton. Since Wallace left we have not been very good at stretching the field, and there is such a role in Haleys offense I believe. I guess I envision DHB manning that role. Imagine that he catches 2 tds for 60+ yards in the first three weeks. That is a lot of defensive adjustment you have to do as a DC if you are playing us with bens arm.

  • KansasSteeler

    Carnell Lake should take that size and speed and make DHB a DB! He’d
    probably catch more than Ike and could be used in nickel packages.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    who is going to help him?

  • steelster

    Limas Sweed maybe?

  • george

    Right…he’s going to teach the young receivers what?