Taking nothing for granted



Taking nothing for granted: For Cameron Heyward, being voted a defensive captain by his teammates is nothing new for the veteran defensive tackle. As a matter of fact, this year is the eighth time his teammates have bestowed the honor upon him.

But it doesn’t matter how many times he has been voted a captain, it’s always an honor.

“I don’t take that for granted,” said Heyward. “There is a lot of responsibility that comes with it. You want to be an extension of your teammates. I want to represent them the right way. I want to be accountable. I want others accountable and make sure we get this thing going right.

“Every year it’s a new opportunity. I do it because these guys voted for me. All I asked is when I do that, I represent them. I make sure that I do my part. I want to be the reason that we win. I want to make sure everybody plays up to that standard, including myself.”

Heyward is one of five players who were voted captains on Monday, with him and T.J. Watt representing the defense, Najee Harris and Mitch Trubisky on offense, and Miles Killebrew on special teams.

This is the second time Heyward and Watt have shared the captain duties on defense, having done so in 2020 as well, and Heyward likes how Watt has grown since then.

“He is always growing,” said Heyward. “I know he said it before, he was more of a quieter guy when he first got here. As I get older and he starts to grow, I like seeing that one day down the road it’s going to be in good hands. He is all about the team. His play speaks for itself. The way he challenges guys and matured, he became a better captain because of it.”

Heyward likes what each of the captains bring to the table, including Harris who is the youngest captain in just his second season in the NFL.

“I think it shows the leadership he has,” said Heyward. “He is a guy that leads by example. I think he was destined to be a captain. When you look at our roster, he is the bell cow. Sure, we have had bell cows that haven’t been captains, but it’s what he does off the field. He is locked in. Guys follow him. He is learning how to challenge guys.

“He is going to be that one guy years down the road you are going to be saying Najee Harris, Steelers captain, again and again.”

Trubisky came in as a veteran free agent this offseason and Heyward saw him immediately take on the qualities you need in a leader.

“I just think he is a guy people rally around,” said Heyward. “He is all about team. He is very bought in. He understands, Coach T (Mike Tomlin) says it, he is carrying our hopes and dreams on every single play. He has gotten more and more comfortable. He came in with the right mindset, always trying to get better.”

Tremendous honor: In just his first season with the Steelers, quarterback Mitch Trubisky was voted by his teammates as one of five team captains.

Trubisky is an offensive captain along with Najee Harris, while Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt were voted defensive captains and Miles Killebrew the special teams captain.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Trubisky. “Any time you are voted by your peers, your teammates, it means a lot. I just come in here and try to lead by example, earn the trust of my teammates and for them to vote for me means a lot.”

Trubisky, who signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in March, said he didn’t do anything other than be himself when he first arrived, and that is what he has stuck to since he got here.

“I come in here every day and work my tail off,” said Trubisky. “Just showing knowledge of the offense and all of that. Being a great teammate and leader, someone the young guys can look up to do things the right way. A guy who wants what is best for this team and leads us in the right direction. It means a lot they thought I was worthy of this honor, and I am going to make sure I live up to it.”

This is the first time Trubisky was named a season-long captain in the NFL, as in Chicago they named captains on a game-by-game basis. He was a captain while in college at North Carolina, and is thrilled to be back in that role, something he said he has always had in him.

“I feel like I have been that, but you can grow into it as well,” said Trubisky. “It’s just me being myself. It’s something that comes with the quarterback position. You are leading the offense, leading by example, but you want to lead the whole team as well, special teams and the defense. You want to be that guy day in and day out that guys can look to and be, ‘Hey, if I do it the way this guy does it we are heading in the right direction.’ I try to do that every day.”

A joy to be here: Cameron Heyward is in his 12th season with the Steelers, the longest tenured Steeler, even though Tyson Alualu has been in the league for 13 seasons.

Heyward loves every minute of wearing the black and gold, especially what it represents.

“It’s a joy to be here,” said Heyward. “You start thinking about your draft class and who is left. I appreciate these moments. I don’t take them for granted. I go in with a new perspective every year, trying to get better.

“All those guys who have gone different places, retired, done other things, I wear them on my sleeve. I appreciate them. I don’t have a 12-year career without every teammate I have had. I represent those guys. Hopefully one day I can say we won a Super Bowl because of those guys.”

Numbers game: The Steelers began their preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, working inside at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex because of rain in the Pittsburgh area.

When they took the field, there was a number change for the black and gold as veteran defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi is now wearing No. 99.

In addition, several newcomers to the roster also have been assigned numbers.

The number updates to date are:

Jamir Jones – 48
Malik Reed – 50
Trent Scott – 72
Jesse Davis – 77
Larry Ogunjobi – 99

Practice time: The Steelers filled out their practice squad on Monday, signing three additional players.

Those signed include safety Andrew Adams, cornerback Josh Jackson and linebacker Delontae Scott.

Adams signed with the New York Giants during training camp, his second stint with the team. He was released as a part of the Giants cutting down to their 53-man roster. Adams has played in 86 games, starting 35. He has 175 tackles, including 141 solo stops, six tackles for a loss, seven interceptions, 23 passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. Adams, who is entering his seventh season in the NFL and also had a short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, played the last four seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was a member of their Super Bowl LV team. He played in 57 games for Tampa, including 18 starts, and played in seven postseason games. Adams originally signed with the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft. He played two seasons with the Giants, playing in 14 regular season games, including three starts. He also started the NFC Wild Card Game.

Jackson was signed by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2022 offseason but was released on the final roster cut. Jackson was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, starting 10 games his rookie season. He was traded to the New York Giants in 2021, spending time on their practice squad. He also spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021, playing in two games. He has played in 44 games with 15 starts and had 78 career tackles, 12 passes defensed, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.

Scott, who was released when the Steelers cut down to their 53-man roster, was originally signed to the Steelers practice squad in 2021 and spent time on the Active/Inactive roster as a game day call up last season and played in one game, against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021. Scott was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. He played at SMU where he appeared in 40 games and had 97 tackles, 36 of them for a loss, with 18 sacks and five forced fumbles. In his senior season he had 10 of his 18 sacks as well as three forced fumbles.

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