Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom: One by one, the defensive linemen and outside linebackers went through blocking sled drills during a recent Steelers OTA session.

And as each one took their turn, in particular the younger players, Cameron Heyward was standing off to the side, encouraging, cheering them on and offering tips.

Sometimes he would stop the drill, step in and give them some hands-on advice, advice the younger players listened to intently and then successfully responded to his coaching.

It was classic Heyward, doing something veterans did for him when he was just coming into the league.

"I got my degree in education and I am still teaching," said Heyward. "I enjoy it. I had guys who taught me the me the way and I want to make sure I am an instrument, a vessel for guys that need to learn. Brett (Keisel), Aaron (Smith), Hamp (Casey Hampton), Hokie (Chris Hoke), Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, they all taught me and took me under their wing, and I made sure I learned from them.

"I hope the guys are sponges and appreciate it. I am never going to steer you wrong. I just want this team to be great."

While the coaches can teach all the X's and O's, techniques and more, having it come from a player, a teammate, a brother, it just hits different.

"I think it resonates more," said Heyward. "It's one thing for a coach to say it, it's another for a player who has been through it to say it. I have been through my share of battles. I think I have won more than I lost. There is going to be a level of experience I have over guys.

"If I can prepare you for those moments and not let you make mistakes, that goes a long way."

Bringing his all: Safety Damontae Kazee has been with the Steelers for less than a month after the unrestricted free agent signed with the team on May 3, but he is already feeling comfortable at his new home.

"It's been going good," said Kazee. "It's like a brotherhood here. Everyone communicates with everybody. They bring you in with warm arms. Everyone is going to do what they need to do and get the job done.

"This is my year six, so I have learned how to do things. I have played for two different teams, so I have learned how to come in and put my head down, go to work and do what I have to do."

Kazee played his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons (2017-20) and last season with the Dallas Cowboys after they signed him as an unrestricted free agent. He finished the 2021 season eighth on the team with 54 tackles, 39 of them solo stops, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and four passes defensed. He was a defensive captain for the team in Week 3.

In his five seasons, Kazee has 241 tackles, 166 of them solo stops, and three tackles for a loss. He has 12 career interceptions, 17 passes defenses and seven forced fumbles.

Despite his experience and success, he is attacking OTAs the same as younger players, because as he said, that's just the way he does things.

"I don't care what year it is, I am going to bring it my all," said Kazee. "That is just me."

He said it:

Dan Moore Jr. on the offensive line's approach this year under new coach Pat Meyer:
"I think last year we tried to have an aggressive mindset. I think the best way to describe it this year is controlled aggression. We just don't want to run off the ball with our heads down and no technique. We really want to be technicians. We want to be grounded in what we do."