With four weeks of offseason practices now in the books, it looks as though rookie Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will start alongside Lawrence Timmons when the team host the Cleveland Browns in the season opener.
During a recent interview with Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network, defensive end Cameron Heyward talked about how tough it is for rookies and young players to start on defense.
“It’s tough,” said Heyward. “Besides it being just a faster game, a stronger game, you know our playbook is very deep and you really got to spend some time with it. I know that everyone wants to see the rookies start and the younger guys start, but you got to pick up the playbook and if you don’t, it’s going to hold people back.”
Just because the Steelers are expecting at least one rookie to start this year on defense doesn’t mean that LeBeau has made the defense any easier to learn, however.
“No, no, no,” said Heyward. “We plan on game one flying around. No holds barred and coming out with some fire power.”
Despite Shazier and second-round draft pick Stephon Tuitt being young, Heyward thinks that both have the ability to pick things up, but that the true test of that is forthcoming.
“I think they definitely have the right motives and right intentions” said Heyward of the Steelers top two draft picks. “It’s just about grasping. You don’t know how they’re going to deal with plays and how they’re going to deal with pressure. But you see that in preseason, see it with the pads on and see how they deal with the lights on them.”