After drafting defensive lineman Cam Heyward in the first round a few years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers are hopeful that he’ll finally have a break out season and show everyone why he was drafted so high.
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons is optimistic Heyward will etch out a role on defense.
“I’m confident he’s going to prove he’s ready to contribute in a big way this season,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune,-Review. “We’re going to need a lot of our young players to perform for us to get back to the playoffs.”
Heyward claims he has high expectations for himself.
“I set high expectations for myself every year,” the 6-foot-5, 288-pound Heyward said. “It doesn’t mean I hit them, but I’ll like to be in the ballpark.
“I’ll say I’m where I want to be in the sense that I feel like I’m capable of doing big things. I’ve got to show my teammates that I can get the job done.”
Without Casey Hampton and James Harrison the Steelers need Heyward to pick up some of the slack left behind.
“It’s different without Casey and Harrison. (Hampton) wasn’t the most athletic, but he’s the guy who kept the team together,” Heyward said.
“He was the glue that brought guys together. It’s definitely different around here.”
Heyward admits it’s hard for him to define his role right now.
“It’s hard to define my role right now, but we’ll see as the season rolls around,” Heyward said. “I have to be a player on this team who contributes in multiple ways. It doesn’t matter if it’s special teams or defensive line.
“I have to be a two-way player. If I want to be strictly a pass-rusher, then I’m in the wrong place. We want to stop the run first, but I want to be that guy in the nickel who gets that push.”
“I got into a little bit of rhythm last year, and it helped save Keisel and Ziggy physically,” Heyward said. “The best experience is game time.”
Heyward believes he needs to put his ability and technique together.
“I have the athletic ability, so it’s a matter of putting technique and ability together,” Heyward said. “Then, I have to transfer that onto the field.
“I have to come to work every day and leave no questions about my effort. When my number gets called this season, I have to be ready.
“I want to be consistent. I want to have one great play followed by another great play,” he said. “I can’t have too many bad plays, not if I want to gain the confidence of the coaches.”