Kaboly: Heyward-Bey Brings A Nice Mix To The Team

It was understandable that there was less than a celebration upon the signing of wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey by the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason, a sixth-year veteran now with his third team after being selected in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in 2009.

The Raiders released the disappointing receiver last season, and the Indianapolis Colts gave him a one-year deal worth up to $3 million.

Despite losing starting receiver Reggie Wayne for the season, however, Heyward-Bey failed to stay in the starting lineup throughout the year, and the Colts made no effort to re-sign him after he proved unreliable holding on to the ball.

That’s why he’s now with the Steelers on a one-year veteran-minimum qualifying contract, with next to nothing in the way of guarantees. If he doesn’t cut it, he can easily be cut without damage.

As it stands, however, he still seems to be in fair position to land a roster spot as the fifth wide receiver, with his main competition being second-year man Justin Brown.

While some have been less optimistic about Heyward-Bey, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review provided a positive spin on his inclusion on the roster during his radio show yesterday:

I’m starting to warm up a little to Darrius Heyward-Bey after watching him. Don’t get me wrong here: Darrius Heyward-Bey drops passes. I saw Darrius Heyward-Bey drop not only passes, but deep passes. Multiple deep passes. However, he did come back and make some nice catches as well.

He can play any position you want him to play—and that’s a common theme with the team this year. Mike Tomlin says the more you can do? My goodness, that’s what he’s talking about. I’m talking about every position. Darrius Heyward-Bey can definitely play every single position, including special teams. I think he was a gunner on the punts in Indy last year. He can do it all.

Out of context, that might seem somewhat more glowing than the manner in which it was presented, of course. The bottom line is that Kaboly was praising Heyward-Bey’s versatility to play every receiver position and his willingness to contribute on special teams.

Additionally, he says that while he will blow some plays, he will also come back and do something to impress you. But he added a caveat. “How good is he? That’s still yet to be seen”, he said. “But I think he brings a nice little mix to the team”.

With his combination of size, speed, versatility, and malleability, one would think that Heyward-Bey could rise to a greater level than where he currently finds himself.

But he even now continues to drop passes on what sounds like a fairly regular basis during OTAs. Will he be able to hang on to a roster spot any better than a football? The answer to that question is beginning to play out now.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Steelers12328882

    He also has 63 career starts(Lance Moore has 30 and AB has 27). I really think it’s a no brainer to keep him on the roster, but it’s going to suck when he starts dropping passes and it costs us a 1st down, touchdown or a game. He’s such a smart player too with tons of athletic ability, but someone shoulda switched him to defense long ago.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    He brings an interesting mix to the table, but his roster spot is tenuous at best for the moment.

  • Crowned

    I believe he can contribute on special teams and also try to get him in a few offensive snaps a game and see if we can get in a mismatch and hit him deep.

  • steeltown

    J.Brown still has PS eligibility, that might be a factor here. Of course if DHB drops numerous passes during preseason then it might not matter how many positions he can play.

  • srdan

    If he is the last receiver to make a squad, your receivers are very-very good

  • dkoy85

    Let’s hope he goes to bed one night and wakes up with hands of gold… soft gold.

    The receiving squad has the potential to be one of the better in the league. It could go either way really… let’s just hope Wheaton takes an AB like 2nd year step.

    It’s crazy to think about all the raw potential this offense has, along with all the seasoned offensive coaches.

  • James Kling

    Don’t forget his blocking skills – could be a roster consideration since rejuvenating the running game is a priority.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’m waiting to see what he does during games. Versatility is something the 5th WR will need so i’m still waiting to see some special teams play. Blake/ DHB as gunners might be an interesting combo

  • cencalsteeler

    As much as I like the DHB signing, I must admit, the talk of the drops Kaboly mentions makes me nervous. How can an elite NFL player, who makes millions of dollars, not hone his craft? It’s not rocket science, and with all the tools out there in todays sports science and sports training facilities, one would imagine he’d fix his weakness. Hopefully, Kaboly’s comments may be exaggerated, but the dropped pass to win the game in the final seconds continues to pop up in my head. I hope he turns things around and erases those daunting thoughts.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    He is someone you sure want to keep if you can. It’s really tough to fix someones hands though. Maybe not a third down guy but he and Bryant would be physically intimidating and downright unfair with AB on the field as well.

  • Nautiboy

    What do they call a wide receiver who has trouble catching? Cornerback. They say he’s versatile. Did we just get our fast, tall corner? 🙂

  • Jon Crissinger

    My response is Ike Taylor.

  • steelster

    malleability is the word of the day. thank you.

  • Matt Manzo

    Did that just say he’s dropping passes in OTAs?!!! Bummer!
    That’s not the first thing I wanted to hear about him!

  • Moneypenny76

    Sanders dropped plenty of passes when he was here. So did Wallace…if he even bothered making the effort to try to catch it! Holmes used to infuriate me because we would make spectacular acrobatic catches and then drop the easy ones. I’ve seen AB drop more passes than he should. Even the most reliable…like Heath and Cotch…would drop one every so often. Besides, one of his competitors for that spot…Moye…also dropped an easy TD pass last season. He has not impressed me based on the little I have seen, and the fact that we didn’t see much of him despite his height means he probably didn’t impress the coaches either.

    Maybe DHB drops a few more than the other guys, but he also has a rare combination of size and speed the others lack. He is a legitimate deep threat the other defense needs to account for. And it sounds like he is extremely valuable on special teams (where, let’s face it, the Steelers need some help) and a great teammate.

    I hope he earns a spot. I’m pulling for him.