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Cam Heyward Believes That Steelers’ 2022 Defense Can Be The Best He’s Been A Part Of

Coming into the NFL as a first-round pick, players are widely expected to contribute fairly soon, except for maybe quarterbacks. For Cam Heyward, there was an adjustment period for him after being the No. 31 overall pick by the Steelers in the 2011 draft, as he didn’t start a game until 2013.

However, the talent in front of him played a role in that, as the depth chart featured names the like of Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood. Heyward’s career trajectory has since exploded, as he’s made four All-Pro teams including three on the first-team, as well as 68 career sacks, which ranks fourth on the franchise all-time list.

As beastly as Heyward’s play has been up to this point in his career, the talent on the defense when he came into the league was elite. Names like Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, plus the likes of James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley scattered the roster, and were fresh off the sting of a Super Bowl loss to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

The point to be made here is Heyward is no stranger to elite defensive talent, and he was asked about just that earlier this morning on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. Co-Host Kyle Brandt questioned him as to whether the current defense can stake their claim as the best defense he’s been a part of, and Heyward was not shy about his thoughts.

“It can be, it’s not short of talent,” Heyward told Brandt and the rest of the panel, according to NFL Network. “You look at all three levels, I feel like we have the guys. Up front we have me and T.J. [Watt], in the middle we’ve got Myles Jack and Devin Bush and then on the back end you’ve got a guy like Minkah [Fitzpatrick], Terrell Edmunds, Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon. You put that group together and we feel like we should be dominant.”

The team’s defense was a far cry from dominant last year, at least when shutting down opposing ground games. The team hemorrhaged yardage last season at an eye-popping rate, coming in dead last in the league, giving up 146.1 yards per game and also 5.0 yards per carry.

The team obviously made some splashes in free agency, adding the aforementioned names. However, they also recently added defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi from the division-rival Bengals, with whom he posted seven sacks and a team-leading 12 tackles for loss last season. His presence up front, along with the return of nose tackle Tyson Alualu, will help, but so will the depth of players like Isaiahh Loudermilk, now in his second year, and rookie DeMarvin Leal.

If the defense can stay healthy, something that obviously wasn’t the case last season, the sky appears to be the limit, and it certainly doesn’t hurt when you have the reigning league DPOY as well. The difference between some of the earlier defenses Heyward played on versus the current one is the fact that they went out and did their talking on the field, as several members of that list have some Super Bowl hardware to prove it.

Now is the time for the current defense to go out and prove it, and Heyward couldn’t agree more.

“We’ve gotta go out there and do it. We’ve gotta go out there and play with a sort of ground-and-pound where everybody knows that we deserve it, and everybody’s gonna pay because of it.”

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