What else does Cameron Heyward have to do to make a Pro Bowl?
After being injured for the majority of the 2016 season with a torn pectoral muscle, Heyward has done nothing but dominate in 2017. While some would suggest he might be a better candidate for ‘Comeback Player of the Year’, his numbers as a 3-4 defensive end should be enough to put him over the top.
Before even getting to the numbers, it should be told out Heyward’s position does play a role in this process. Technically, he is a defensive end, but not in the same sense how Joey Bosa or Khalil Mack, are considered defensive ends. So, should he be considered an interior defensive lineman? Most would agree with that, but he didn’t make the roster at the position either. Geno Atkins, Jurrell Casey and Malik Jackson made up that list for the AFC.
Enough about positions. Let’s talk about statistics for a second.
Heyward has 41 tackles, 27 solo, through 14 games, and when you combine that with the 10 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, 3 pass defenses, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery he makes a case for himself with numbers alone. However, while the numbers are there, and comparable to his peers, what doesn’t show up on the stat line are the plays he makes which go unnoticed.
Heyward pushing his blocker into the quarterback.
Heyward completely busting up the interior of the line and forcing the ball carrier into another defender.
No. 97 doesn’t get credit for either of those plays, but he was the one who made them. Heyward is not only the Steelers’ defensive captain, but he is the key cog to this defensive front, and has been the entire season.
While Heyward is, in my opinion, the biggest snub of all on the AFC side of the ledger, I doubt he will mind if he, and his 8 teammates who made the Pro Bowl, don’t participate in the annual All-Star game due to being busy preparing for Super Bowl 52.
With that said, this news still has to sting for Heyward, but I’m sure he will channel that into his on-field play and help propel the Steelers into the postseason, and hopefully to the fabled ‘Stairway to Seven’.