Steelers.com brings you the Ask the Steelers feature. Fans submitted the questions that were asked. Please understand that we receive an incredible number of questions for each player, with many of the questions being similar, and not all of the questions can be answered. We selected as many as possible, and took your questions to the current subject to get your answers.
Defensive End Cameron HeywardStephen Mihalov, Orlando, Florida: The Steelers focused on the offensive line for some of the draft, rather than the defensive line except for Alameda Ta'amu. How do you feel about that and does that give you the sense that they have confidence in you and the others on the defensive line? Heyward: I think we had a lot of other needs to address. I am excited about this year. We have a very good defensive line, a lot of leadership and experience, but a lot of younger guys that are capable of making plays as well.
Debbie Morgan, Sarasota, Florida: How have you grown since your rookie year as far as your play?
Heyward: My knowledge of the game has expanded a lot. I think Coach (John) Mitchell does an awesome job teaching us, not just talking to us. I think I have gotten stronger, faster. I am excited about this year.Mike Mazanowski. Leetonia, Ohio: You played football with Mike Adams and Troy Smith at Ohio State. Were you excited to see these guys join the roster?Heyward:Of course. When you have some more Buckeyes and that is awesome. Me, Coach (Dick) LeBeau and Will Allen are just salivating having more Buckeyes on the team.
John Quinn, New York, New York: Did the team look for your input before drafting Mike Adams due to you guys being teammates and lining up against each other in practice?Heyward:No. Mike deserves this opportunity and is going to make the most of it. I am happy he is here.Javier Madrigal, Costa Rica, San Jose, Curridabat: What is your overall feeling about your play last season and what do you expect for this season?Heyward:There were a lot of things I could have done better. I am very hard on myself and I just need to continue to improve. I have big expectations this year. I expect to have a great sophomore season and have more success than I did last year.Steve Barriero, DeBary, Florida: Knowing Casey Hampton is coming off the late season ACL injury, do you and the other defensive linemen feel more pressure knowing you will all have to step it up as a unit while Casey gets back to 100 percent?Heyward:Of course. We can't replace Casey but have a lot of guys who can help out and make plays. If we do our jobs and are technically sound, there is no reason why we can't win games.Bryan Heckman, Northampton, Pennsylvania: How important was it to have a mentor like Aaron Smith teaching you the defensive end position your rookie year?Heyward:Aaron, Brett (Keisel) and Chris (Hoke) have been through the fire and showed us the ropes. It's nice to have guys that are willing to teach and care about us young guys. They are steering us in the right direction.Jeff McDonald, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: What is the best thing you learned from Aaron Smith?Heyward:There are so many things I learned, just staying low, using my hands, things like that. But there are things that he didn't have to teach me, that I learned from observing him. He was a great guy off the field, a guy in the community you could always count on. That is what I try to model myself after.Nick Kelly, Minneapolis, Minnesota: How do you see your role changing in the defense this year?Heyward:I think more responsibility because I have been through a whole year and was fortunate enough to play a little bit. I think they are going to expect more out of me. I don't think they are just going to expect the Cameron from last year, but expect even better.Jake Brown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Do you see yourself fighting for a starting job this year?Heyward:That is Keisel's job. I am going to just keep battling in practice and the best players will play and Keisel is our guy right now.