<
>

Steelers' Cam Heyward is captain material

7/27/2014

LATROBE, Pa. -- Training camp is still in its early stages as the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t hold their first padded practice until this afternoon.

I have one early prediction when it comes to the team taking shape and it is this: Cameron Heyward will be voted a captain by his teammates in little more than a month.

Neither defensive captain from last year, defensive end Brett Keisel and safety Ryan Clark, is with the team and Heyward is well on his way to becoming one of the leaders on a defense that has been turned over quite a bit in the last few years.

No less an authority than Ben Roethlisberger, a five-time captain, singled out Heyward and center Maurkice Pouncey earlier this week when asked which younger players are assuming leadership roles.

“The Cam Heywards, the Maurkice Pounceys -- those are the guys that you see being vocal,” Roethlisberger said. “But I think people respect them because of their work ethic. Both of them put so much into their preparation that the guys respect their leadership.”

Heyward, who turned 25 in May, shrugs off talk about his taking on a bigger leadership role but he is as strong a candidate as any to help fill that void.

The 2011 first-round draft pick is already one of the Steelers' best players on defense, and a defensive line room once owned by the likes of Keisel, Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton now belongs to Heyward.

Even if he would never say that.

“I see myself just trying to help,” said Heyward, who led the Steelers with 31 quarterback pressures last season and tied for the team lead with five sacks. “Speak when I have to but for the most part lead by example. I haven’t (started) a full season yet. Whether it’s lead or advice or just being an example I’ll do whatever it takes.”