PITTSBURGH — Cam Heyward has played with the Steelers since 2011. A bridge between eras, Heyward is 34 years old and coming off major surgery after dealing with a groin injury. Heading into the season, he already suffered from a core muscle injury. That worsened against the 49ers, and he tore his adductor muscle in his groin. So, in reality, Heyward is returning from two separate injuries here. He has to pace himself back and get the requisite level of conditioning needed for the workload he plays at on the field.
But there are some some thoughts that have started creeping up on retirement. It’s been a tough season for Heyward mentally and physically, and that time is going to toll eventually.
“The first thing, I’ve got to get my body feeling a lot better. This has been a rough season,” Heyward said.
He said that he has not thought about yet and will do so after the season before making that call. Since returning from that injury, Heyward is not the same player and does not have the same base of strength. But he’s been an elite run defender that has allowed that unit to flourish when he is out there. The pass rush juice has still not been there.
In conjunction with the doctors, Heyward has worked heavily to get his level of conditioning back to where it was before the injuries. But it’s still not at that level. With an entire offseason, it’s not entirely crazy to believe that Cam Heyward could get back to where he was at, but a serious injury requiring surgery at 34 years old is vastly different than doing it even four years earlier.
A four-time All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in six consecutive seasons, Heyward’s return would give the team a much-needed wake at the defensive line spot. But it’s up to Heyward to see how he feels and if he can play beyond this season with the Steelers.