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Cam Heyward On Connor Heyward Making Steelers’ Roster: ‘I Am Very Proud Of That Kid’

A former first-round pick, Cam Heyward was a lock to make the Pittsburgh Steelers his rookie season. There was no fear on cutdown day, no worry about getting a visit from The Turk that the coach wants to see you and yeah man, bring your playbook with you. But for Connor Heyward, Cam’s younger brother, cutdown day was met with a bit more uncertainty. Sixth-round picks are given little latitude and the guys who make the team from that starting point earn their role. Connor Heyward earned his and Cam Heyward beamed about little bro on his latest Not Just Football vlogcast.

“It’s very hard because the sixth round, nothing’s given to you,” he said. “You have to continue to work. I am very proud of that kid.”

Connor relatively convincingly made the Steelers’ 53-man roster thanks to a strong summer performance that ended better than how it started. He also had little in the form of competition, battling practice squad veteran Kevin Rader and third round flameout Jace Sternberger. Heyward was used as a tight end but is far from the traditional mold, looking more like a fullback/H-Back, and of course, is just two years removed from playing running back at Michigan State. Pittsburgh took advantage of his flexibility and pass-catching ability. In our training camp recap, here’s part of what we wrote about Heyward’s summer:

“Heyward had a tale of two camps. The first half was a bit underwhelming, an inefficient player who dropped too many and mainly worked underneath. But he caught fire down the stretch, catching his final 14 targets and making plays down the seam. Overall, Heyward is a natural catcher of the football with soft hands and a good radius to make up for his lack of size. He made more difficult combat catches down the stretch and runs solid routes, performing especially well in the opener against Seattle.”

Heyward lands on the Steelers’ roster as the team’s #3 tight end behind Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry. He’s done the hardest part to make the initial roster. The next most difficult step is staying on it, something Cam was quick to point out.

“Don’t ever get it wrong. I am very proud of him, but that’s a spot where you have to continue to keep fighting throughout the entire year. You have to continue to produce. This league is about guys that produce at a high level on a consistent basis. And man, they’re gonna judge him every week and I’m gonna be his biggest fan and I’m gonna make sure he does what he can. But we got some work to do and I’m glad to have him Week 1.”

Heyward has to avoid getting caught up in roster churn. The guys at the back end of the 53 man roster. The “corresponding move” guys, the ones caught in the crossfire of an injury or issue at another position, forcing the team to make a move and bring someone else onto the roster. Heyward’s place on this team isn’t guaranteed and he’ll work to get a hat on gameday, helping him to avoid that roster roller coaster. Carving out a role on special teams will go a long way, and Heyward’s proven he’s capable of doing that.

Check out Not Just Football’s latest episode below.

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