Heyward: It's up to the players to be great

LATROBE, Pa. _ A look back at what resonated from Week Three at Saint Vincent College before looking ahead to Seattle at Acrisure Stadium …

THE STANDARD IS THE STANDARD: Head coach Mike Tomlin had made what might yet come to be remembered as his "Declaration of Defense" during an interview with WDVE-FM, the flagship station on the Steelers Radio Network, on Aug. 5:

"I think it's a reasonable expectation for us to play great defense. Those are our intentions. We're not gonna be bashful about stating that as an expectation and we're not gonna run away from it. We're gonna run to it. We have the men, not only in personnel but in schematics and coaching. I expect them to be dominant."

Players reacted last Monday, specifically defensive tackle and defensive captain Cam Heyward and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and let it be known they're on the same page.

But Heyward also made it clear it'll mostly be up to the players to fulfill those great expectations.

"Schematics can only take you so far," Heyward maintained. "It's up to the players to hold it down, make sure they're accountable and do what is needed. Too many times it might be 10 people right and one wrong, that hurts the defense. Coaches can only do so much. They give you the playbook, it's up to us to execute it."

EBB AND FLOW: Wednesday was representative of what's been taking place more often than not.

The offense executed back-to-back, two-minute drives for touchdowns, easily covering the required 60 yards in less than the 1:38 allotted.

Quarterbacks Mason Rudolph (4-for-4) and Kenny Pickett (2-for-2) went a combined 6-for-6 for 120 yards and two TDs in the drills.

But prior to that quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Rudolph and Pickett had combined for just three completions on 12 attempts in a third down drill.

"It's an important part of the game," center Mason Cole noted after the latest two-minute success the offense enjoyed (2-for-2 on Wednesday, 4-for-6 overall). "We just have to focus on having that all practice.

"Right now, at least (Wednesday), we're a lot up and down. We just gotta be consistent and be good through the whole practice."

LET GEORGE DO IT: The first two-minute drive on Wednesday concluded with rookie wide receiver George Pickens and Rudolph hooking up for 37 yards to the 10-yard line, and then with Pickens tipping the ball with his left hand and then catching it with his right while coming down inbounds in the back of the end zone.

It was the latest in a series of eye-catching and/or jaw-dropping plays made by Pickens in camp.

"He's good and he doesn't even know it yet, or he might as much as he talks," safety Karl Joseph told reporters afterward. "He's got crazy abilities and he's been showing it."

See the best photos from the third week of the Steelers 2022 training camp

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: The running game got an opportunity to display its prowess at running the ball into the end zone from in close on Monday and Tuesday.

Running back Benny Snell went 1-for-2 in a live goal line drill on Monday, and 1-for-2 on consecutive reps in "Seven Shots" on Tuesday.

Offensive line coach Pat Meyer wasn't disappointed with those results, but nor was he satisfied.

"We need to be 2-for-2 and 2-for-2," Meyer maintained. "We should have been 2-for-2 (on Tuesday).

"But that's all part of it, guys playing together, learning each other, learning how they approach the blocks, how the line is approaching the bocks and how the backs are pressing the hole and doing that type of stuff.

"We're getting better. We just gotta continue to stack the chips and keep choppin' wood."

SOMETHING TO PROVE: Rudolph is the lone Steelers incumbent among the three quarterbacks vying for playing time but doesn't view himself as a known commodity.

He looked ahead to the Seattle game as one in which he'll still have things to establish.

"I think you're always trying to prove yourself, so yeah, every chance you get," Rudolph said. "It's one thing to do it in practice. It's another thing to do it in a stadium.

"We got a lot of young guys and I'm excited about leading those guys and making them feel comfortable out there when the bullets are flying."

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