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Arthur Smith Finds Swiss Army Knife in Connor Heyward

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their own Swiss army knife for Arthur Smith’s offense in tight end Connor Heyward.



Pittsburgh Steelers TE Connor Heyward
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Connor Heyward at the team's first OTAs session, May 21, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Did the Pittsburgh Steelers find the do-it-all Swiss army knife that new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith wants in his offense? Well, maybe they did not find someone, but a familiar face can fit into that role. Enter Connor Heyward, who played mostly at tight end during his time in Pittsburgh but has worked at running back and fullback over the years, given how Smith likes to use a fullback and other alignments throughout this offense. Heyward stands to be a winner under him this season.

On Tuesday, Heyward stated that he is working with the tight ends during individual drills but has no qualms about playing elsewhere if asked. That fits with his message of the past few seasons. When you talk to someone like Heyward, who has versatility, they can be a tough player to slot into an offense, so it’s not that surprising that Heyward refers to himself by the moniker of a football player more than he does a tight end given his eclectic skill set. He does not have the traditional size for a tight end, but for someone who works all around the offensive formation, Heyward fits right in.

Pittsbrugh Steelers TE Connor Heyward

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Connor Heyward at the team’s OTAs sessions, May 28, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“I do my Indy with the tight ends, but I always look at myself as a football player. I’m just gonna do whatever the coaches tell me to do: running back, tight end, fullback, and special teams, of course. The more, the merrier,” Heyward said.

To this point, all of the tight ends have spoken highly about Smith and the roles he has planned out in the offense. For Heyward, it seems like his great hands and versatility will allow him to move around the formation and be a versatile weapon for Smith. Matt Canada tweaked the idea of Heyward playing more at other spots, but it never came to fruition.

This season, it might be different under Smith. In his third season, Heyward has a critical role as an elite special teamer and is likely to play the third tight end of the depth chart. He brings versatility that no one else in the room has, so he should be able to carve out a niche for himself within Smith’s offense.