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Steelers' Heyward has high expectations

| Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 11:24 a.m.
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Cameron Heyward NFL

Defensive end Cameron Heyward feels more confident entering his second season with the Steelers, in part, because he's had offseason practices and minicamp to prepare.

A year ago, the NFL lockout slowed his progressed.

“When you can slow it down, you're going to have much more success,” said Heyward, a first-round selection in 2011. “I've been able to focus on my keys and execute.”

Heyward has higher expectations for himself this season.

“If there's pressure, there's pressure. I'm just going to do my job,” he said. “I don't have to be an all-star. If I'm opening the gap for somebody else — it may not show up in the stats — then we're winning. I just want to be a part of the mix, so I just have to execute.”

• The Steelers signed linebacker Brandon Johnson and long snapper Matt Katula on Wednesday. Johnson, a fifth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, spent the past four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, playing primarily on special teams and as a backup linebacker. Katula, a seven-year veteran, played with Baltimore, New England and Minnesota Vikings. He appeared in 93 games as a long snapper but only 13 games over the past two seasons. Katula, an undrafted free agent in 2005, played the last five games of 2011 with the Vikings. Also, the Steelers placed receiver Connor Dixon (South Park) on their waived/injured list and released tight end Wes Lyons (Woodland Hills).

• Running back Isaac Redman surprised himself with how quickly he grasped the offense of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, especially the two-minute offense. “This is a learning camp,” Redman said. “Right now, we're trying to get in a position where we're not thinking about. We're starting to get a hang of it. We're starting to grasp the two-minute drill, but I surprised myself how I've caught on to the verbiage of it.”

• Rashard Mendenhall, who suffered a torn ACL in the 2011 regular-season finale, isn't sure when he'll be ready to play this season. “I'm not looking too far down the line, but right now, I'm comfortable with my recovery,” Mendenhall said. “The healing process has been going well.”

— Ralph N. Paulk

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