Looking Back on Rookie Season, Heyward ‘Appreciates’ Coach John Mitchell’s Challenge
In the midst of another All-Pro season, Pittsburgh Steelers star handling the defense Cameron Heyward took time to reflect to the media on Thursday at the South Side facility, looking back on a trying start in his career. His career under former Steelers defensive line manager John Mitchell, credits struggles, as the reason he’s become as dominant as he is.
That year, Heyward was a first-round substitute at 31st place in 2011, placing him on the bench behind Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, who had been picked in the first round just two years earlier.
Hailing from Ohio State, where he was a defensive star for the Buckeyes, Heyward had to adjust to sitting on the bench in Pittsburgh, which was a tough transition for a young defence. The adjustment of the bench, along with the difficult training of coach John Mitchell in the defense at that time was a challenge for the young player.
“I remember being ignored, and Mitch [John Mitchell] always yelling at me,” Heyward told reporters on Thursday, according to video via Steelers.com. “I was in extra meetings and didn’t think I was going to play here, man. I remember living on the South Side and getting bored every day after training because I didn’t get to play, but man, I think it all turned out to be worth it. I think it will become earned.
“What I appreciate most about coach Mitch is that he challenges me to come back better every time and that makes me work twice as hard and gives me the opportunity when I’m ready to play to win the game. really capture that moment. So full circle or whatever you want to call it, I’m so grateful to be in Grade 11 in the NFL. ”
Although it took year 3 to become a starter, Heyward learned under one of the best defensive coaches in Mitchell, making him one of the NFL’s best defensive quarterbacks since from year to year.
Asked if he hopes things could be different early on in his career, Heyward countered, saying he’s pleased with how things have turned out studying under Mitchell and behind a veteran like Brett Keisel.
“I can’t live in an alternate universe, man. I’ve been handling hands, I have; I hate it and why does it happen,” said Heyward. “I remember in that corner Mitch worked with me like a dog and was like, man, I just wanted a chance here. And finally I got a chance. What is it? Year three, 2015 versus Jets and man, I’m sure I’ll… take advantage of that.
“I know I’ve played before. Shoot, I miss the rookie game. I mean my rookie year, we went to Denver and we lost like two people in line D, where we’re stuck. And so I got the chance to play. But to play consistently and start and not just be a plug-in guy, but also become a guy who can contribute… that’s always been my goal. ”
It’s safe to say Heyward has definitely become a contributor – and an adult at that. Credit to John Mitchell for seeing the potential in Heyward and driving him to the level he reached in the NFL, becoming a consistently outstanding player overall.
https://steelersdepot.com/2021/11/reflecting-back-on-rookie-season-heyward-appreciative-of-coach-john-mitchells-challenge/ Looking Back on Rookie Season, Heyward ‘Appreciates’ Coach John Mitchell’s Challenge