How different a player is Cam Heyward today vs. Cam Heyward as a rookie?
I have definitely grown schematically, physically, mentally, and intellectually. All of those things are taken into account. I have gotten to experience a lot my first couple of years here. It made me a better player because of it.
This year alone you seem to be having your best year. Anything you changed or is it natural progression?
Early on it was all about staying ready. Now I have had the chance to hear from guys like Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith about things. You are not just reacting to what they are going to do. You know what they are going to do and responding. I think as an older player you learn that. You aren't just playing off of instincts. You are already countering before they actually do something.
The top photos of DE Cam Heyward throughout 2014 season.
You mentioned learning from guys like Brett and Aaron. How much do you try and help the younger guys now?** I want to make sure all of the guys are on the same page and that means talking to them a lot, making sure they understand. As a leader you want your rookies to be more talkative and communicate early on so there is no doubt in what they are thinking. It's little things like that. I am hard on them in practice so we don't have to worry about it during games.You mentioned the word leader. Do you see yourself developing as a leader on the defense and do you have to do a little more with Brett's injury?
I am just going to try and lead by example and encouragement. I am not going to replace Brett Keisel, but I can be my own kind of leader. If that means keeping guys accountable, keeping myself accountable and leading by example, that is what I will do.
What kind of progress have you seen from Stephon Tuitt?
He played a lot more snaps this past week against the Saints. It's all about growth. We know he is not a finished product. He is growing. With more snaps he has had more production. It's about translating, getting him on the same page and ready to go for this week.What about Daniel McCullers? What kind of progress is he making?
He has all of the physical tools in the world, now it's just about putting them all together. Not a lot of guys can say they have the tools he is working with. Now it's time to make them envious. It's time to make them see that this is the guy who has it all and even on his worst day you can't block him. When Tuitt and Dan really get the hang of this defense and the hang of playing 40-50 snaps, we are going to have a really good defense because those two won't be stopped.**
How tough is it for young guys to get acclimated to the defense?**
It takes time. We had these guys just go out there on the fly and try to run with it. But it really takes times, staying in your playbook, being very curious. The best thing is to ask as many questions as you can rather than keep anything back and learn that way. They have to experience some stuff and grow from their mistakes. That's what makes us better. I have never seen a player from day one who was perfect. These guys are going to experience some lumps and get better from it.
You host a television show this year, 'Steelers Late Night with Cam Heyward' on KDKA. Do you enjoy it?
Of course. Every week we have a different guest come on and they do a heck of a job. It's a great experience to be a part of.
Have you learned anything new about any of your teammates having them on as guests?
Just a couple of weeks ago we had Al Villanueva on and we got to dive into what he is all about. Of course you hear the stories about him being an Army Ranger, but to hear his point of view and hear him talk off camera you see a different side of him. The guys have different personalities and you see that.
Can it be challenging as you always have to be willing to speak out win or lose?
I have to take my lumps, you've got to. That comes with the territory. I signed up for it. Hopefully I won't have to deal with any more of it and it's wins from here on out.