Game Day Notebook

The Steelers play the Ravens in Baltimore today. Here are some of the short stories to keep an eye on:

Cameron Heyward played in four Ohio State-Michigan game, so he has a pretty good idea what's in store for him when he opens his career against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I've always watched this rivalry," said Heyward, the Steelers' first-round pick. "You want to be a part of these types of games. They mean a lot for your team. When you get that win, it's unbelievable to be a part of it. There's going to be a lot of hits, a lot of battles."

Heyward, a lifelong Steelers fan, was asked for a standout memory of Steelers-Ravens.

"Someone's bound to get hurt or someone's bound to take a blow, but it's how you battle back from it," he said. "For me personally, just watching it, what stood out is that all these games are decided in the fourth quarter."

There's little doubt Heyward will have a role in this game. The Steelers plan to use him early this season as a part of a rotation in their base Okie defense because of the hot weather.

"He'll get nickel snaps, too," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. "He was a good pass-rusher in college and he showed us here he's a tireless effort guy. He's going to work hard and make some plays.

"He's got a lot to learn – I guess we all do – but I've been very pleased with his work ethic and the way he came in here. He reminds me a great deal of Ziggy [Hood]. They didn't ask for anything and they just wanted to go out and make the team on their own abilities, not where they were drafted. That's positive character and I think Cam's going to come on the way Ziggy has."

ARNAZ THE BATTLER

It was a bright idea, if not extremely fan-like.

The idea was to forsake special-teams coverage demons such as Arnaz Battle on cutdown day in order to keep, say, a seventh cornerback or 10th offensive lineman.

The logic was fairly sound: With the kickoffs having been moved up to the 35-yard line, coverage has become less important since most kickoffs are flying out of the end zone.

Of course, the Steelers kept Battle, and not just because he led the team with 11 preseason receptions. They voted him special-teams captain.

So, what's his unit's state of preparedness?

"We're definitely ready," he said. "We have some young guys in there. We're missing some guys like [Keyaron] Fox, [Anthony] Madison, those guys, but we have young guys, guys like [Jason] Worilds, [Stevenson] Sylvester. They're coming along. Myself, Will Allen, [Ryan] Mundy – we have a solid group. We feel we give this team a great chance to win in that phase of the game."

KEEP 'EM HAPPY

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians really does care about the feelings of his many and talented wide receivers. Here's how:

"Somebody's going to have a lip poked out on Monday," he said. "So you try to soothe their ego and you try to get them a ball early the next game. But then somebody else is going to have a lip poked out. That's just the way it is. When you have quality wide receivers, somebody's not going to catch as many balls as the other guys. And you want them mad. So that's a nice problem to have."

At running back, Arians will keep Isaac Redman happy with an extra series per half, and also in short-yardage situations and some third-down situations. Redman will share third downs with Mewelde Moore, even though Arians admits that Rashard Mendenhall is his best option on the most critical down.

"Yeah. Yeah. But there are times when (Mendenhall) needs to rest and that's a good place."


Steel City Insider Top Stories