Mike Mitchell Is ‘Totally Confident’ That Darrius Heyward-Bey Will Make The Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free agent wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey during the offseason and while a spot on the 53 man roster is probably far from guaranteed for him right now as far as the coaches are concerned, safety Mike Mitchell, a fellow teammate of his that also played with him in Oakland, really likes his chances.

“Darrius is a very hard worker and he’s been through some adversity,” said Mitchell, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “but I’m totally confident he’s going to be on this team and help us win football games.”

The adversity that Mitchell references concerning Heyward-Bey is well documented and it mostly revolves around all of the drops that the Maryland product has had since being drafted seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders back in 2009. Those drops were on full display in 2013 during his one season with the Indianapolis Colts and we’ve already highlighted them in a previous post.

Over the course of the summer, Heyward-Bey not only must show that he can hang onto the football, he’s also going to have to show special teams coach Danny Smith that he can play on several of his units.

After being benched last year by the Colts, Heyward-Bey did show that he could possibly be counted on to do the dirty work when it come to covering kicks and punts and you can bet that Smith will give him every chance during training camp and the preseason to prove that wasn’t a fluke.

With four wide receiver spots, (five if you count Dri Archer) already spoken for on the Steelers 53 man roster, Heyward-Bey will more than likely have to beat out young receivers Derek Moye and Justin Brown for one last spot. Heyward-Bey is not only more experienced than both of those players, he’s also faster and more physical than both of them. Like it or not, he’s likely got the upper hand right now on his competition.

On top of everything else, Heyward-Bey also has Steelers history on his side. As I recently pointed out, of the 41 primary free agents that Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has signed during his time in Pittsburgh, only one has failed to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp.

We now have less than 100 days until the Steelers final 53 man roster is set for the 2014 season-opener against the Cleveland Browns and at this point, I’m not willing to bet against Mitchell’s confident prediction.

  • ApexSteel

    Mike Mitchell is like the anti-Ryan Clark. My boy is young, fast, and he says positive things about his timeouts. First Robert Golden then DHB.

  • Terry Fletcher-Borden

    I agree 100% Apex. He seems like a great team guy.

  • blue

    DHB makes the team & signs cheap extension. Woulda think we signed him for!

  • Steel PAul

    After watching the Colts lose their top receiver last year, that was DHB’s big chance. If he had anything, if he could make a difference, he would have done it last year. A golden opportunity.

    Instead, he sat on the bench as other younger players took the field. This move has me scratching my head as DHB is a known commodity.

  • Big White

    Value, value, value.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I think we need to be realistic about Heyward Bey. He is what he is. A very fast, decent sized, limited route runner, with questionable hands.

    He’s probably not starter capable at the NFL level. When Andrew Luck and the Colts don’t keep you on the roster that is telling you something.

    HOWEVER. Special teams is a completely different story. 6’2″, 210 lbs, 4.3 forty, running down the field is not easy to block. It all depends on whether or not he wants to learn to tackle.


    Our young corners are all going to be so much better after training camp, when they have been battling the blistering pace put up in front of them with AB, Archer, Wheaton, Bryant, Moye AND Bey, on a day-to-day basis!

    That is some kind of crazy speed and quickness that I just rattled off, and it is going to be fun to watch with the Steelers Munchicated ZBS front line, power-pounding slashing RB duo, dependable-handed tall TE duo, and former HC’s and Steelers players galore coaching them all up on both sides of the ball….and of course #7 gunning every game to reach #7 and his own third.

    I really hope Bey fixes his drops and makes the team, because as the coaches have reiterated after the draft; you can’t teach speed – and he still has it in addition to length and veteran savvy.

    Who ends up making it?

    Go Steelers!

  • Madi

    I always thought Ryan Clark was a great teammate.

  • Madi

    We’re not asking him to do anything but cover kicks, block, and be a #5 receiver. I hardly think that his failures as a starter mean he can’t do those things for us.

  • Steel PAul

    That’s an interesting perspective Madi. But being a #5 receiver means if someone gets hurt, you’re the #4 receiver.

    If we wanted special teams help, we could use linebackers for that. Receivers need to be able to step in and play. There are enough talented young receivers who may become legitimate players that could take that spot instead.

  • Ryan

    Hes not completely worthless a receiver. He has some drops yes but it’s not like he has a 50% drop rate either. Not too mention even if someone gets hurt and he steps up to the #4 spot his speed will be a huge asset. Put him and Dri on the field at the same time and have them both run deep and youre talkin big play potential either opening up space in the middle or if they break free then over the top.

  • Madi

    I don’t understand your post. Receivers play special teams all the time. So do linebackers, but they play different positions. Receivers need to be able to step in and play…. and linebackers don’t? And I was being generous calling him the #5 receiver. Brown, Wheaton, Moore, Bryant – and you still have Archer, who would outrank DHB, and you still have Heath and Bell. We don’t take those guys off the field too often. We’d need several injuries before DHB absolutely HAD to see the field.
    And he’s not without his good points. He is crazy fast and quite strong, and I’ve heard a very good blocker. He’s not worthless.
    As for better talented young receivers (I assume you mean Moye, Brown, and the longer shots), well that’s what camp is for. If they’re better, or will be, they’ll have a chance to show it. I’m not handing DHB the job. But there’s nothing wrong with competition. If the young guys going into their second years can’t beat out a known commodity like DHB, then you really think they’re going to be more legitimate in the future?

  • HiVul

    I like the idea of signing an under-performing 27 year old former #1 pick and see if he can thrive in a better organization, but I don’t know if we’re going to get anything out of him that the Colts didn’t.

    He’s been playing the game professionally for what, 5 years now? Can you really teach someone better hand-eye coordination in a single offseason if he’s struggled with it his whole career?

  • vinnie12

    I say He blows everyones mind and becomes a great reveiver!
    Some one with that kind of work ethic will always be someone I pull for!
    A good sports Psychologist could help immensely !

  • I still think the DHB signing is fantastic — significant upside and little/no risk. The concern, I suppose, is that he might take the spot from Moye, but do we really see Moye in the team’s future? And if Moye makes it over DHB, hopefully that means he had a really good training camp.

    But back to DHB: He’s a veteran, he’s been around, and he seems to have a good attitude. He also incredibly fast and has a decent track record (yes, the drops, but that’s not the entirety of his career). Maybe he’s just a 25-30 catch guy at this point, but he can still be a valuable weapon if used properly.