While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart ‘shakeup’ at the wide receiver position has drawn its fair share of attention—a quick gauge of that would be the number of views and comments in our articles this week that touched on the topic compared to other articles—there is one person in particular who doesn’t seem to be too moved by the change: wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Heyward-Bey, of course, was the ‘beneficiary’ of the depth chart change, as the Steelers now list him as a starter at the wide receiver position over Markus Wheaton, who has missed four of the team’s seven games this year, but is expected to return tomorrow after missing two games heading into the bye week.
He is also, as though who are familiar with his history would know, a ‘draft bust’, once selected by the Raiders seventh overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, having never lived up to expectations, which were immense, and eventually resorting to signing a veteran-minimum contract with his third team when he joined the Steelers in 2014.
As a sidenote, it’s a bit ironic that the Raiders are now having so much success with Michael Crabtree, who is the wide receiver that, frankly, they should have drafted. Crabtree obviously agreed with that, and was extremely upset that Heyward-Bey was drafted ahead of him. I believe he even sat out part of his rookie season, if memory serves. But I digress…
It took him some time, which included settling into Pittsburgh, for Heyward-Bey to walk away from the shadow of that label and of the stigma and emotions attached to it, but he has learned to let go of all that, and is now just about the team.
About being named a starter on the depth chart, he said, “I don’t think about that”. Heyward-Bey did receiver a Steelers-career-high 62 snaps in the game before the bye week already, it should be noted, the most of all receivers.
“I wear so many different hats”, he continued, “that I feel like the starter anyway”, referring to his integral role on a variety of special teams units, as he has become easily one of the Steelers’ best players in that aspect of the game.
Heyward-Bey talked about how wide receivers coach Richard Mann calls him “The Joker” “because he can put me anywhere on offense and special teams and we are going to get 100 percent effort and execute”.
Coming to an organization like the Steelers has obviously played a role in Heyward-Bey finding peace in his role in the game, no matter what form it takes. “I bought into the program the Steelers have”, he said.
“They don’t care about where you came from, your past, as long as you are willing to come here and do work. Whatever they ask me to do, I will do it”. Ostensibly, the team is asking him to start, although how that actually plays out on the field remains to be seen.