Heyward Aiming to Finish the Job

Steelers DL says team can’t overlook opponents

Josh Rowntree
June 15, 2018 - 12:30 pm

Coming off a record season, Steelers veteran defensive lineman Cam Heyward is tired of coming up short.

Collectively, there’s a sour taste in the mouths of the Steelers following January’s embarrassing playoff loss to Jacksonville. 

While Heyward is ready to move on, he’s not shying away from the issues that plagued Pittsburgh in that game. 

"To say we were AFC North champions last year means nothing to this year,” Heyward said Thursday at the conclusion of minicamp. “But, I look forward to having a good group of guys. I know we’re a very talented bunch, but talent doesn’t win all the time. At the end of the day, we have to get the job done.”

The Steelers failed to do just that last year. While Heyward said he doesn’t feel they looked beyond the Jaguars, he did give the vibe that more emphasis is being given on keeping focus. 

"The goal is to win and win every game,” he said. "Then you put yourself in the best position and win every game in the playoffs. That means not looking over opponents. That means looking at everybody the same and understanding that we’re trying to win every game.”

While unhappy with how things ended in the Winter, Heyward is able to find some silver linings.

"We’re all prisoners of the moment,” he said. "We all struggle with the last game, ourselves included. We were hard on ourselves too. But we have to understand, we had a good year, we just didn’t end where we wanted to."

"There’s some things we can take from it, but we always want to strive to be better. There’s a lot of things we can improve on. And we look forward to it. We embrace the challenge."

Heyward noted that his defense put up a franchise record 56 sacks last year. He had a career high 12, making the Pro Bowl for the first time. 

"I try to find things that I need to get better at,” he said. "But, first of all, I just want to work on my conditioning." 

“And I try to work on the mental aspects of it with picking up a playbook, working on little calls, working on our quick calls. Things that our communication needs to improve on.”

The Steelers’ defense line will be under new watch, as Karl Dunbar was hired off of Alabama’s staff to replace John Mitchell as defensive line coach.

"He’s a great coach,” Heyward said of Dunbar, who has served 12 seasons as an NFL assistant before. "He’s had a lot of success at a lot of different places. I respect the heck out of him and I’m looking forward to learning from him, honestly. He’s going to teach me a lot about my game and he’s going to show me how to be an even better player."  

"I like to think I’m still a rookie and can improve and hopefully he can teach me a lot."

Dunbar will play a small part in a team that should compete for a championship. But, as the Steelers found out last season, expectations mean nothing.

"This is a good team, but it’s about getting over the hump and taking that next step,” Heyward said. We don’t want to just get there, we want to go all the way and finish the job." 

"We’re not just doing this to be regular season champions because, at the end of the day, that doesn’t win a Super Bowl.”