I don’t know about you, but there are some things that I don’t really mind being reminded of in different ways over and over again. One of those things I don’t mind being repeatedly reminded of is how great somebody like Cameron Heyward is. It doesn’t hurt that the veteran of the Pittsburgh Steelers is also a great person off the field.
The latest reminder of Heyward’s greatness—as he heads into his 10th season in the NFL, mind you—comes from Pro Football Focus and a recent graphic that they posted on Twitter listing the highest grades for interior defensive linemen over the course of the 2019 season. Or, more specifically, over the course of the 2019 season during the second halves of games.
Only he and Aaron Donald posted Pro Football Focus grades of 90.0 or better among interior defensive linemen in this metric, with the next two on the list being Calais Campbell—now, of course, with the Baltimore Ravens—and Grady Jarrett.
Highest graded interior defensive lineman in the 2nd half of games in 2019:
1. Aaron Donald – 93.3
2. Cameron Heyward – 91.0
3. Calais Campbell – 89.9
4. Grady Jarrett – 88.2 pic.twitter.com/kNd9OlSyC2
— PFF (@PFF) June 29, 2020
It is nice to see a couple of 30-plus defensive linemen on this list, showing that they can still get the job done and then some, having the endurance and conditioning to finish games strong. But anybody who has followed the Steelers should know that Heyward epitomizes hustle, whether that is on the first play of the game or the last.
2019 marked the third consecutive Pro Bowl bid for the big man, as well as the second overall time that he was named a first-team All-Pro. And wouldn’t you guess, but a lot of his production came during the second halves of games.
Heyward produced 46 of his 83 tackles last season after halftime, as well as 5.5 of his 9 sacks on the year and four of his six passes defensed. Even further, he had two and a half sacks and three passes defensed in the final two minutes of either half, which can often be the most high-pressure defensive scenarios.
His dominance on the field has played a big role in his teammates, year after year, seeing him as their captain and voting him into that role. He leads by example with his performance and the spirit with which he goes about it, the sort of performer who makes those around him better, a true leader.
And he does it for 60 minutes, or 70 minutes if necessary. As long as there is a snap to be played, and he is on the field for it, he is going to take it as seriously as any other and do everything in his power to finish the job. Pro Football Focus just provides another piece of evidence in stating that case for him.