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Monday, November 18, 2019

Articles tagged: Cam Heyward

Steelers kick off at start of overtime in confusing coin toss

Mike Tomlin

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a surprising decision at the start of overtime on Sunday, and a confusing exchange left many wondering what was going on.

The Baltimore Ravens got the opportunity to call the toss and got it wrong, which allowed the Steelers the chance to choose what they would do. Official Walt Anderson seemed to talk with Cam Heyward a few times to make sure the Steelers defensive lineman made the choice he wanted.

The announced result was that the Steelers chose to defend a goal, which left Baltimore with the choice of receiving or kicking. The Ravens chose to receive.

Baltimore went 3-and-out and punted to the Steelers, who then had the chance to win the game with a field goal. The strategy seemed to work out well, but JuJu Smith-Schuster lost a fumble, giving the ball back to Baltimore. The Ravens ended up kicking to win 26-23.

Many questioned the Steelers’ decision, which would put them at a disadvantage under normal circumstances. However, these weren’t typical circumstances. The Steelers were on their third-string quarterback and probably thought the chances of him leading a game-ending touchdown drive were low. Not only that, but a turnover in their territory could lead to an instant game-ending field goal opportunity for Baltimore. Conversely, if the Steelers defense could force a stop, a field goal from Pittsburgh would win the game. Mike Tomlin probably thought the chances of Devlin Hodges leading a field goal drive were much better than the rookie leading a touchdown drive.

The surprising strategy was sound; the Steelers just lost because of a turnover.

Steelers captain wants Antonio Brown back with team in 2019

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown seemed to fall out of favor with his teammates when he essentially abandoned them during the final week of the regular season, but at least one Pittsburgh Steelers veteran wants the star receiver to remain with the team.

Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward, a captain and one of the most respected members of the team, had high praise for Brown at the Pro Bowl on Thursday.

“I love the guy. I think the world of the guy,” Heyward said. “I love his competitiveness. I love that he strives to be the No. 1 receiver.

“I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’ve done plenty of stupid things. I just think I’d love to have him on our team.”

The Steelers have all but confirmed that they are open to trading Brown, which is not a surprise. All indications are that he would welcome the change as well, but Ben Roethlisberger has done his best to downplay the supposed feud he had with the receiver toward the end of the year, and now Heyward is taking the same approach.

Steelers’ Cam Heyward rips former teammate for Mike Tomlin criticism

Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has had it with a prominent former teammate taking shots at coach Mike Tomlin in the media.

Former Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who played 14 seasons with the Steelers, said on FS1 Thursday that Tomlin deserved the blame for Pittsburgh’s potential playoff absence, arguing that the coach failed to make the most of a talented defense. Heyward wasn’t having that narrative.

“Right now, he is a mouthpiece. That’s it,” Heyward said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “I couldn’t care less what he thinks. I don’t really care what James thinks right now (because) he’s not in this locker room and he’s not going to help us win if we talk about him.

“(Harrison) is the one bringing it up; nobody else is even talking about it. What’s his beef with him?”

His beef likely goes back a year, when Harrison had a rather spectacular falling out with Tomlin and the Steelers over what he perceived to be broken promises about his playing time and usage. He ended up joining one of the team’s rivals, the New England Patriots, and has used media appearances to be publicly critical of Tomlin ever since. This looks like another instance of him having an axe to grind.

Cam Heyward defends Mike Tomlin, says players never show up late

Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin has faced a great deal of criticism over the way the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended, but several players have come out in defense of the head coach over the past two weeks. Veteran defensive end Cam Heyward is the latest.

While speaking with reporters from the Pro Bowl on Thursday, Heyward was asked about the perception that Tomlin does not hold his players accountable.

One recent report claimed Le’Veon Bell was one of one of several Steelers players and assistant coaches who ignored Tomlin’s requirement that everyone report to the locker room two hours before the kickoff of games. Heyward claims that never happened.

Bell missed a portion of Pittsburgh’s walk-through the day before their playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he said this week that he had a good excuse for that and Tomlin was made aware ahead of time.

While there have been instances where Steelers players clearly showed a lack of focus (like Antonio Brown’s infamous locker room video from last year), the bigger concern with Tomlin should be the situational coaching mistakes he has consistently made. Those have hurt the team in recent years, most recently against Jacksonville.

Cam Heyward: Targeting rule in NFL would be ‘stupid’

Juju Smith-Schuster Vontaze Burfict

This offseason, the NFL will once again consider implementing a targeting rule similar to the one currently used in college football. Not surprisingly, many players are strongly opposed to the idea.

When asked about the possibility of targeting making its way to the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said he feels the idea is “stupid.”

“Stupid,” Heyward said. “A 15-yard (penalty) can be very detrimental. Now you’re costing a team a player?”

Heyward cited JuJu Smith-Schuster’s illegal crack-back block on Vontaze Burfict in Monday night’s game as an example of a player who does not deserve to be ejected from a game.

“Guys aren’t trying to hurt you,” he added. “I know JuJu didn’t deliberately try to hurt (Burfict). It was a big play and he just thought he was doing his job and doing it well. Obviously he shouldn’t stand over anybody, but he was already apologetic (to his teammates) during the play. You’re gonna already hit his paycheck.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the targeting rule, it gives NCAA officials the ability to use their discretion to eject players who make forcible contact to the head and neck area of opponents. All of the plays are reviewed before a final decision is made, which is one concern the NFL has had about adopting the rule. As of now, judgment calls in the NFL aren’t reviewable. The league has also been trying to avoid slowing down games.

While the rule is unlikely to pass, there’s no question it helps make the game of football safer. Eventually, the NFL may have no choice.

Each NFL team’s best defensive player so far

Von Miller

Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, several popular names still lead the fray when it comes to defensive production. However, key injuries to superstars like J.J. Watt have created a void that has been filled by some surprising players, many of whom are having career years.

Here’s a look at each NFL team’s best defensive player so far in 2017.

Arizona Cardinals — Tyvon Branch, S

There are a lot of talented defenders on Arizona’s roster, but through six weeks, it’s hard to argue that Tyvon Branch — who has been called a “wolverine” complement to the “honey badger” — isn’t the very best. He not only leads the team and is tied for the league lead with 55 tackles, but he’s also defended four passes, forced a fumble and was named to the Pro Football Focus First Quarter All-Pro Team. Branch getting the nod says a lot about his impact this season when you consider Arizona also has Chandler Jones and his six sacks.

Atlanta Falcons — Deion Jones, LB

Deion Jones has filled out the box score this year, leading the Falcons with 38 tackles. He’s also recorded a sack, three passes defended and an interception. Jones is also among Pro Football Focus’ top 15 graded linebackers this season, alongside teammate De’Vondre Campbell, who has also landed very high grades for Atlanta. Jones is blossoming well for Atlanta in his second NFL season.

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Cam Heyward upset Steelers playing on Christmas again

Cam Heyward eye black

The Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to play on Christmas for the second straight year, and at least one of their players is not happy about it.

Cam Heyward saw his team’s schedule for the 2017 season and grumbled about the Steelers playing on Christmas again:

The Steelers were one of four teams to play on Christmas in 2016. Most of the teams played on Saturday in Week 16 last season, with the customary Thursday and Monday night games taking place as well. Pittsburgh hosted Baltimore on the holiday, while the Broncos visited the Chiefs on Christmas.

This year the Steelers are set to play on Monday night at Houston. They once again will be one of the only four teams to play on the holiday, as the Raiders visit Philly later in the evening.