Heyward-Bey’s Role on the Steelers


Players that are expected to dominate secondaries with imposing size or speed or both are the types of receivers that are taken the first round of the NFL Draft.

These players are projected to be game-changing additions to offenses that need a threat to take the top off of the opposing defense.

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They are not the players sent down to make tackles on punts and kickoffs. However, that’s exactly where former first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey finds himself.

As Still Curtain Editor Kim Myers stated when reporting the Steelers’ announcement about the re-signing, Heyward-Bey does not owe his new contract to his receiving skills.

The speedster from Maryland was drafted seventh overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Heyward-Bey was never able to mimic his collegiate success. He moved on to the Colts for the 2013 season and had an underwhelming impact.

All of this had Steelers fans scratching their heads when the Steelers signed the veteran wide receiver last year.

While, Heyward-Bey didn’t have much of an impact on the offensive side of the ball, he did show special teams skills that had not been showcased to that point in his career.

Last August, Mike Tomlin was pleasantly surprised about Heyward-Bey’s special teams contributions:

"I really like some of the things that he’s showed us in the kicking game of late. Some things that, quite frankly, I didn’t know he had in terms of willingness and ability to cover punts. His willingness and ability to block for punt returners in the vice game on punt returns."

Perhaps Heyward-Bey has found his niche. After all, special teams is a third of the game of football and can change the momentum of a contest in no time.

The key here is that a former first round pick can be satisfied with taking on such an unglamourous role for the chance at a ring, and that a team would take the time to unearth those skills with a veteran that had not exhibited the skills extensively with former teams.

So continue the slow and underrated signings of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Next: Tomlin Predicts Top Offense

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