Maybe you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks. Cam Heyward is back in the lab, getting ready for the 2021 season by apparently adding in some new pass rush moves. He’s working with famous pass rush instructor Chuck Smith this offseason.
Recently, Smith tweeted out his training with Heyward and apparently a new tool Heyward is putting in his toolbelt. Here he is showing off a hip head fake, as coined by Smith.
— Chuck Smith #DrRush “Teacher of Pass Rush” (@chucksmithnfl) March 26, 2021
Heyward has been able to win as a pass rusher in a lot of ways over his career. It’s one reason why he’s among the best pass rushing interior linemen in football. But he’s most often won with power, an overwhelming bullrush that’s walked many guards into their quarterbacks laps. Now, Heyward is showing some more finesse as a changeup against stronger linemen or ones who sit and expect power.
This also shows an underappreciated element of Heyward’s game. His work ethic. He’s among the hardest workers in that locker room. Last year, he said he kept a notebook full of tips and tricks.
“Each year I like to bring a journal,” he said in an interview shared on NFL Game Pass. “And just literally jot everything down. Whether it’s Coach T’s thoughts, my thoughts, breaking down the beginning of the week. How we played, after the game, just where we can improve.”
He’s served as a leader and role model for this team, no doubt a positive influence on young guys like Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs.
For his career, Heyward has 58 sacks. That ranks fifth on the all-time Steelers’ list, surpassing LaMarr Woodley’s mark late last season. He needs just 1.5 more to surpass Keith Willis for sole possession of 4th place. 33 of Heyward’s sacks have come over the past four years.
Last year, he and Stephon Tuitt made up one of the scariest duos in football while the Steelers put up another 50+ sack season. Tuitt’s game has always been a little more about finesse and power. Now Heyward will try to add that element to his game as well.