Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers is a very important game for veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey as the former first-round draft pick has made a late charge for a roster spot. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about Heyward-Bey’s recent push.
“He’s done some really good things of late after he came back from his concussion and I’m just as pleased as to what he’s provided us from a special teams standpoint as I am what’s he doing at wide receiver,” said Tomlin.
“Like I was talking about earlier in terms of the people having an opportunity to make a final case for themselves, I really like some of the things that he’s shown us in the kicking game of late. Some things that quite frankly I didn’t know he had in terms of his willingness and ability to cover punts. His willingness and ability to block for punt returners in the vice game on punt return. It’s attractive and he’ll be given an opportunity to display those things along with his wide receiver play in this game.”
Back in April when Heyward-Bey was signed, we highlighted his work late last season on special teams with the Indianapolis Colts. At that time, it was easy to speculate that his play on special teams would be a huge determining factor in whether or not he ultimately makes the final 53 man roster this season.
Thanks to a concussion suffered early on in training camp, Heyward-Bey missed valuable practice time. However, thanks to all of the other young wide receivers on the roster being pretty pedestrian thus far during the preseason, Heyward-Bey is still very much alive for a roster spot.
Last week in the 31-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Heyward-Bey caught all three passes thrown his direction for 54 yards and a long touchdown. He only played three special teams snaps in that game, however, so look for him to be a part of all four primary units Thursday night against the Panthers.