Steelers 2-a-days: Cameron Heyward ascends to elite, 4th QB Devlin Hodges takes his shot
Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2019 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly-alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.
DL CAMERON HEYWARD
Experience: 9th season
Contract status: $14.9 million cap hit in 2019, signed through 2020
2019 outlook: Heyward is sneaking up on a career that defines him as a legacy Steelers defensive player who will be looked back on among the most known in franchise lore. Barring injury, he’ll have (at least) a decade’s tenure with the team with more than half of that as a captain. He’s also riding a streak of two consecutive Pro Bowl berths in addition to being a 2017 first-team All Pro. Heyward has been a living monument of the transition of what the Steelers’ defense – and in some ways, the NFL at large – asks out of its defensive linemen (i.e., 20 sacks the past two seasons). He turned 30 in May, though, so this season carries significance in that he is eligible for a contract extension next summer. How Heyward performs this season could have a big impact in how that plays out.
Cameron Heyward has tied Aaron Smith (44.0) for the 2nd-most sacks by a defensive lineman in #SteelersHistory (since sacks became an official statistic in 1982).#WPMOYChallenge pic.twitter.com/mDZkn6DZVd
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 30, 2018
QB DEVLIN HODGES
Contract status: $495,000 cap hit in 2019, under team control for four years
2019 outlook: The fourth quarterback traditionally faces as long of odds as anyone at making the Steelers’ final roster. But Hodges already is playing with house money after making the 90-man offseason squad via a rookie minicamp tryout. And Hodges was highly-productive in college – the reigning NCAA Division I passing leader in yards per game (albeit the FCS Samford). His size and arm strength are less than ideal, though, and the Steelers are loathe to give up on Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph. So, Hodges’ chances are likely limited to an injury to one of the top three QBs. That said, he fit in over summer practices, so he could be fun to watch at camp.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .