Your weekly quota of Danny Smith articles from me.
And this week, sitting down with Bob Labriola like usual, Smith positively gushed about Darrius Heyward-Bey and what makes him such a great special teamer.
Although DHB has had an emerging role as a wide receiver, now elevated above Markus Wheaton for depth chart purposes, he’s still been a crucial special teamer.
Smith broke things down in the physical and mental elements.
“First of all, the guy is in great condition. I have never been around a great player who isn’t in great condition. The utmost is your conditioning. To do the things like him does, to run the way a guy like him does, you got to be in tip top shape. He takes such great care of his body. That’s number one.”
Great conditoning is something Mike Tomlin preaches all the time so it’s no surprise to see Smith echo the sentiment.
And the mental.
“But he understands the game, he has a willingness to do whatever is asked of him whether it’s on special teams or as a wide receiver. He’s a joy to be around, he’s attentive in the meetings, he has good questions, he has good understanding. That’s where it all starts. His athleticism and God given ability to run, and he can still run like he did when he came out. We do those mile per hour and all those kinds of things, and this guy is flying around the field in all phases.”
Bring us home, Danny.
“He’s a joy to be around. I think the guy’s excellent. I love him. I’d do anything in the world for him.”
Heyward-Bey is seventh on the team in special teams snaps with 86, only behind a slew of wide receivers. He has just two tackles on the season but his speed almost always makes him the first player down the field, forcing returns to one side and limiting their impact.
He continues to be one of the most valuable and underrated players on the team who is probably finally getting the credit he’s due.
Opponents are averaging 20.9 yards per kick and 9.7 per punt. No kick return has gone for longer than 33 yards and no punt for more than 17.