Training Camp

Mike Tomlin ‘Not Ready To Anoint’ Connor Heyward For Role In Offense

Following Wednesday’s practice that was moved up due to the potential of inclement weather in the area, HC Mike Tomlin took time to address the media to give the daily injury update as well as his general thoughts about practice as a whole.

When questions were opened to the media, Tomlin was asked about TE/FB Connor Heyward and what elements of his game he looks forward to implementing into the offense in 2022. Despite giving Heyward praise for his competitive nature earlier in camp, Tomlin pumped the breaks a little in terms of the rookie’s outlook in 2022.

“I’m just still getting to know him,” Tomlin said during the presser on Steelers.com. “I’m not ready to anoint him just yet. He’s making some plays and getting better and we’re liking some of the things that we’re seeing from him. And he’s getting better from a conditioning standpoint. And for a lot of young guys, that’s a challenge. They got offense or defensive responsibilities, but also these instructional special teams periods are huge for them. And they burn a lot of gas in those periods. And he’s one that I see getting better in that regard.”

Tomlin started out rather glass half empty with his comments on Heyward, suggesting that the rookie Swiss Army Knife player isn’t in line for a notable role on the offensive side of the football as we sit here today based on his response to the question. However, Tomlin did go on to acknowledge several aspects of Heyward’s game to this point including his playmaking as a receiver, his conditioning, and his contributions on special teams.

With Derek Watt firmly entrenched as the team’s starting fullback for 2022, Heyward’s path to the roster likely rests on his ability to win the TE3 job out of camp over Kevin Rader and Jace Sternberger. While Heyward lacks the prototypical size and length at the position, he has proven to be a viable pass catcher and will throw his weight around as a blocker. Ultimately, Heyward’s spot on the roster depends on his ability to make an impact on special teams which he has embraced from all accounts thus far in training camp.

As a sixth-round rookie and a tweener between fullback and tight end, it’s understandable why Tomlin may want to throw some water on the fire of Connor Heyward potentially making an impact on offense in 2022. Still, his comments to Heyward’s work thus far shouldn’t be disregarded as he has made a positive impression thus far on the head coach. The next step for Heyward to show Tomlin he belongs on the 53-man roster comes this Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks in Pittsburgh’s first preseason action in 2022.

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