Cam Heyward will make his second start of the season on Sunday against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, but this time it will be a little different for the third year defensive end.
Heyward, a former number one draft pick, started against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 22 at Heinz Field when the defense opened the game in the nickel package. But this Sunday he will make what could be the first of many starts in the base defense after Coach Mike Tomlin named him the starting left defensive end over Ziggy Hood.
While Heyward's new role has been the buzz the last few days, he was pretty quiet about it, not boosting or bragging but taking a business as usual approach.
"I am going to get ready like any other game," said Heyward. "It's not going to change how I prepare. I guess I am excited. I am honored I get to start, but it doesn't mean anything.
"The main goal is to get the win. I still expect Ziggy to be ready to play. We are going to keep rotating. It's a good rotation and we've got to have success on Sunday."
Heyward has been part of a rotation that has seen Hood and Brett Keisel as the starters and him and Al Woods spelling them. On Tuesday Tomlin said Heyward earned more snaps and the best way to get him them is starting.
"I guess I will start the game and you don't know how a game is going to transpire and I will just be out there," said Heyward, who learned of the change last week. "It's the coach's call and I am going to just stay ready to play."
Heyward has six tackles and two pass defenses through four games, and is second on the team with nine quarterback pressures, a stat that he doesn't think about much. To date the Steelers have caused no opponent turnovers, and while the pressure is good, Heyward wants to force the quarterback to make errant throws that turn into interceptions.
"I am more concerned with getting to the quarterback and getting the sack, or us getting some interceptions," said Heyward. "That is just the way I am. I just think I have to get to the quarterback and make something happen.
"We have to get the one turnover first, just like the win. We have to get one. It takes some luck, the ball rolling your way, awareness and focus to stay alert on every play. They are going to come our way. We just have to make sure we capitalize on it."