LATROBE, Pa. - Cameron Heyward doesn't need to be told how great his leadership skills are. Actually, the big defensive end doesn't want to hear it.
He didn't take on the role of a leader, one that had him voted a defensive co-captain along with William Gay last season, to get a pat on the back. Rather, it's just the opposite.
"I am not in it for the accolades," said Heyward. "I am not in it to be recognized. Then I would be satisfied with it. I want to see results on the field. I want to see these guys blossom. I want to make sure I am leading them the best way I can.
"I am never comfortable, but I am going with it and just trying to continue to improve as a leader and whatever it takes."
Like it or not, though, the accolades come in. It's because what Heyward is doing is exactly what his teammates expected when he was voted a captain a year ago.
"He always motivates you," said defensive tackle Vince Williams. "He works hard each and every day. He gives his all. When you see that in a leader, you want to go out there and work with him.
"He is working hard. He is big on giving us the keys, helping us out with the mental game. Giving us the keys he sees when he is out there. He is a great player. You want to keep working hard and get better for him and all of your teammates."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 5th training camp practice.
Heyward, the former No. 1 draft pick who is now in his sixth season, leads first and foremost by his actions in practice, on game day and in every day life.
"When you starting talking about Cam, you have a coach on the field, you have a guy who's a professional," said assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell. "When I talk to my guys, I tell them there's a big difference between being a 'pro' and a 'professional.' A 'professional' does everything. He's on time, he shows up for meetings, and he comes out and works hard. Cam knows the difference between being a 'pro' and a 'professional,' which I like."
He also cares about the team, cares about his teammates, and lets that show.
"He loves his teammates," said defensive coordinator Keith Butler. "They are like brothers to him. He wants the best for them and he has a good understanding of what that is."
And sometimes, that love means tough love. Heyward is the first to encourage his teammates, but he also is real with them.
"To love your teammates you have to be honest, you have to be open," said Heyward. "Sometimes you have to push buttons they don't want pushed. When you are able to get past the niceness and just be honest with them, it goes a long way."