In 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward finally showed his first round mettle.
The end was a force to be reckoned with on the Steelers D-line, and expectations are high for Heyward in 2014.
An enormous way a player can show progress is through their leadership on and off the field.
And that’s exactly what Heyward has shown these first few days of camp.
“Everybody has a sense of urgency,” said Heyward. “Being 8-8 the past two seasons isn’t where we want to be. It left a bit of a sour taste. This is a hungry group from the top to the bottom. Nobody is going to be slacking and we are going to be transparent with that.
“You have to have a sense of pride in what we are doing right now. You don’t want to mess up. You see the history in this organization. It starts with the defensive line up front and we need to carry ourselves and lead the right way.”
In the absence of longtime Steeler and locker room voice, Brett Keisel, it’s up to Heyward—now one of the longest tenured Steelers on the D-line—to step up.
According to Steelers.com, Heyward has spent every allowable offseason day at the Steelers facility working on keeping in shape and building his body in the weightroom.
“For the NFL season you have to prepare every day,” said Heyward. “You have to get some sort of rest, but not too much. To prepare for the NFL grind you have to work at it every day. You will reap the benefits down the road, where late in the season you need those games to go your way and your body is prepared for it.
“A lot of guys buckled down this offseason and really understood if we want to make a deep run this year we have to be ready for the grind and the wear and tear on our bodies.”
The fourth-year man out of Ohio State wants wants not only himself to be better, but the team as well. And there only one way to do that he says:
“For me it’s seeing the defense as a whole more, seeing what the back end does so I can transfer it into my position and understand where everybody is coming from. I always want to get better technique-wise, whether it’s hand usage, getting off the ball and being more disruptive. I want to be more of a dominant player where I am the more dominant player on the field.”
The Steelers and Heyward are looking to make the playoffs after two disappointing 8-8 seasons in a row.