Connor Heyward Knows What #83 Means In Pittsburgh

When Steelers’ fans think of #83, they think Heath Miller. When they see #83 this year, they’ll have to think of someone else. Connor Heyward. That’s the number Heyward is at least beginning his NFL career with. And he knows all too well how important that jersey is.

Speaking with reporters via Friday, Heyward was asked about the jersey selection.

“Heath Miller,” he said when asked what he knows about #83. “I didn’t pick my number, for people wondering. He’s a legend here. I wouldn’t be surprised if his jersey is retired. He’s a really good player and really good person in the community. Best tight end in Steelers’ history. I know wearing this right now I’m going to have high expectations. But I like high expectations. Having pressure my whole life, I’m used to it. I’m going to accept and hopefully I leave his jersey in a better place when I’m done.”

Considered a tight end and with limited numbers to choose from, Heyward ended up with #83. He isn’t the first Steeler to wear it since Miller retired. Cobi Hamilton sported the following season while other training camp/practice squad players, like WR Anthony Johnson, have used it as well. So it isn’t in the “unofficially retired” camp, potentially because some other numbers in the 80s aren’t often handed out. No one has worn Hines Ward’s #86 and while #84 for Antonio Brown has been issued, there may need to be a little more time to pass before it feels more acceptable to hand it out. Other jerseys like John Stallworth’s #82 and Lynn Swann’s #88 have been regularly handed out over the years so this shouldn’t be a slight against Miller.

As Heyward walked through, he knows how important Miller was to Pittsburgh. A first-round pick in 2005, he became one of Ben Roethlisberger’s most trusted weapons and one of the league’s most complete tight ends, a perfect fit for those early days of Pittsburgh’s ground-control offense. Wearing that jersey definitely comes with high expectations but when your day is Ironhead Heyward and your big brother is Cam Heyward, high expectations become the norm.

Though Heyward is listed as a tight end, he’s expected to wear multiple hats in the Steelers’ offense and on special teams, just as he did in his final year with Michigan State. If he makes the roster, it’s certainly possible he changes his number as the 90-man gets whittled down to 53 and more jerseys open up. Frankly, something in the 40s would “look”  bit better for a H-Back type of player like him. So don’t go buy those #83 Heyward jerseys just yet.

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