The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2022 season.
Player: Connor Heyward
Experience: 1 Year
While many scoffed at the Steelers’ decision to draft the little brother of All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, sixth-round pick Connor has more than begun to justify his spot on the 53-man roster.
Lacking a true defined position due to his ‘tweener’ body type, Heyward’s responsibilities were somewhat limited as a rookie but have the potential to be expanded, should he justify it with his play, now that he is more settled.
Primarily a special teamer at the outset (he logged 284 snaps and registered nine tackles for his efforts, Heyward did begin to see chances come his way on offense as the season progressed. The occasional injury to either Pat Freiermuth or Zach Gentry also yielded some more opportunities, translating in the end to 174 offensive snaps.
And he typically performed ably when made the focal point of the play. Catching 12 of 17 pass targets, there were some standout efforts included in there both before and after the catch, totaling 151 yards with a long of 45. The highlight was, of course, his touchdown in Atlanta.
You’re likely to be familiar with the backstory if you’re bothering to read this, but it’s where he grew up and where his father, the late Craig, played. He and Cameron went out to their father’s gravesite before the game, so it was a tremendous moment for Connor to get his first career touchdown in a place that was so significant to the Heyward family.
He did have two carries as well, both of them successful plays. The first closed out the win against the Raiders, a 21-yard gain on 2nd and 10, only going down to let the clock run out. He converted on 3rd and 1 in the first quarter of the regular season finale.
Yet there is still much to be determined regarding what he is capable of doing and what he will be asked to do. His ultimate duties are likely to encompass more fullback-like assignments as the coaching staff gets more comfortable throwing more things at him and trusting that he can take it on.