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Tomlin: 'He is a difference maker'

If you want to make assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell smile, just say two words to him.

Cameron Heyward.

Trust me, that's all it takes. And for good reason.

Heyward is not just the ultimate defensive lineman, he is the ultimate teammate, professional and, quite honestly, the ultimate human being.

"There are a lot of good football players in the NFL, but there are a lot of selfish players. Cam is not like that," said Mitchell. "Cam wants to win. He doesn't care if his number is called or not. What I like about him is when he encourages a player, or corrects a player, he is correcting himself. I have heard him tell players this is what we have to do, but I have to do it just as well as you have to do. That makes the player he is engaging with feel good because they know he isn't just talking to them, but he is talking to himself too, saying Coach Mitchell wants me to do it better too."

Heyward might not care if his number is called, but when it comes to the Pro Bowl, his number should be called. If it isn't, it would be a grave injustice. And his teammates agree.   

"He should be a Pro Bowler," said Bud Dupree. "Absolutely."

Heyward leads the team in sacks with seven, one shy of a career-high, on a defense where players are blitzing from all over the place. Those seven sacks are also sixth-most in the AFC among defensive ends. He had two sacks against the Titans, and was relentless bringing the pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariotta.

"When we pressure from the inside it doesn't allow the (quarterback) to escape easily," said Heyward. "We can put pressure up the middle and then we can keep contain on the outside. That's a solid rush for us. It doesn't allow the quarterback to step all the way through on his throws. "Even if you're not getting sacks you get the pressure, force some bad throws. We just have to continue to do it. The sacks will come for our outside linebackers because they're doing a heck of a job right now."

He also is tops on the team in tackles for a loss with 10, which is ranked third in the AFC for defensive ends. He has 32 tackles, 15 quarterback pressures, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"Man, he is having a great season, he really is," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He is a difference maker."

And his numbers, they only tell part of the story. Heyward has been a dominant, disruptive force, and is truly making a difference for the defense.

"He makes my job easier," said Mitchell. "He is a leader for our defense on and off the field. He is special."

And with that, Mitchell smiled.

It's time to do your part. You can help get Heyward and his teammates to the Pro Bowl. Fan voting counts for one-third of the total votes. Right now Heyward isn't in the Top 10 of fan votes at his position, and he should be.

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