Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans has been postponed to later in the season after a series of positive coronavirus tests, and at least one player is frustrated with the NFL over the way the situation has been handled.
The NFL announced earlier in the week that the Steelers-Titans game would be played either Monday or Tuesday. After a few more members of the Titans organization tested positive for COVID-19 to bring the total to 11 people, the game was postponed until later in the season. Shortly after that news surfaced, Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward took to Twitter to voice his frustration.
Ideally, the NFL would like to give players an answer on when their next game will be as early as possible. There is only so much that can be done to make that happen, however. The situation is fluid and depends on whether or not more positive coronavirus tests are returned.
The NFL prepared for the possibility of games being postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, and this may not be the first time it happens. The league is also going to great lengths to make sure teams take health and safety protocols seriously.
Heyward and the Steelers are finalizing a four-year contract extension, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Sunday.
Heyward was entering the final season of a 6-year, $59.2 million contract signed with the team in 2015. The sides worked to keep the defensive lineman under contract for longer than that.
The extension will go on top of the final year of his current deal, which means Heyward will be under contract through 2024. He is receiving $65.6 million in new money and will be set to earn $75.1 million over the next five years.
Heyward seems to only be getting better with age. The 31-year-old had a career-high 83 tackles and 23 quarterback hits last season. He also had nine sacks.
Cam Heyward sent a fantastic Twitter response to a post that denigrated one of his gridiron opponents.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler compiled a list of the top 10 interior linemen in the NFL. He promoted the list via Twitter with an inflammatory quote about Indianapolis Colts lineman Quenton Nelson. One NFL defensive assistant coach said their opinion of Nelson changed after seeing what Heyward did to him.
One NFL defensive assistant coach on Quenton Nelson: "Ever since I saw Cam Heyward whoop up on him, I've never looked at him the same."
Heyward saw the tweet and stood up for Nelson in defense. He said that him having a good game against Nelson doesn’t devalue Nelson’s talent.
Man I’m not with that. So because I had a good game it devalues a great talent. Dude is heck of a talent. How about I’m a great player myself and we won the game simple as that. I know Q is a dog and I know it’s a 5 star match up when we line up.
Nelson was the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2018 out of Notre Dame and has been an All-Pro player in both of his seasons. Heyward was a first-round pick in 2011 and has made the Pro Bowl in three straight years and was All-Pro in 2017 and 2019.
Bottom line? They’re both great players, like Heyward said, and that point should not be lost just because Heyward got the best of Nelson in last year’s matchup.
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.
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.
Steelers captain Cam Heyward explains why he wants Antonio Brown ‘here with me' in Pittsburgh next season. pic.twitter.com/xfOfTk6a5N
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?”
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.
Cam Heyward when I asked him about the criticism Tomlin gets about lack of discipline: “that’s a load of crap.” @TheAthleticPIT
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.
Cam Heyward on players showing up late on game days: “No, that never happens.” @TheAthleticPIT
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.
“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.
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.
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.