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Steelers TE Connor Heyward Ramping up Work at Fullback



Connor Heyward

PITTSBURGH — Connor Heyward was drafted to be a tight end. Up to this point in the process, Heyward was only training to play at tight end. However, on Monday, Heyward came out and started to do some individual drills with the running backs. They were working on protection calls. In the final days of training camp, Heyward got his first reps at fullback with Derek Watt banged up. This continues that trend.

The coaching staff wanted Heyward to learn tight end first and get comfortable there first. He is still practicing mostly with the tight ends, but now, they are ready to diversify his usage within the offense. That includes some reps in the backfield and as an H-Back as well. Heyward says that this is all according to plan for him, as he starts to branch out away from just playing tight end. Still, tight end is the main focus for Heyward.

“No, they’re not, I’m still doing a lot of tight end stuff,” Heyward said. “But they think that I can help them in certain situations in the running back room. Obviously, Najee is very good and he’s the bell cow, and you have Snell, Jaylen Warren, McFarland, and whoever else. Honestly, I came into the facility today and they told me I was going to be doing more running back stuff. You know, I’m still meeting with the tight ends. However, this is just if they might need me there. I’m just continuing to learn as much as I can in this offense and learning multiple roles.”

Eddie Faulkner led the running backs through protection call drills during the individual period on Monday. Heyward’s background both as a tight end and former running back at Michigan State will allow him to do plenty of things. He thinks it will help him plug and play right into the offensive system. Moreover, it adds to his versatility and ability to do things with the ball in his hands.

“I think they saw that I picked things up well with the tight ends and stuff,” Heyward said. “You know, they think it’s time to put a little more on my plate. I think they’re doing it the right way. At first, they let me get one thing and I was trying to learn the offense as a whole. Now, I’m trying to learn some more.”

One thing the Steelers liked when they drafted Connor Heyward was his versatility. Heyward quickly earned the trust of his quarterbacks at tight end. Now, the Steelers want to unleash Heyward in different ways. With fullback on his plate as well, Heyward has now had reps at in-line tight end, flexed out into the slot, H-Back, and fullback. That is not to mention his special teams ability. That background has made Heyward valuable.

“I think it makes you even more valuable,” Heyward said. “I think Michigan State prepared for this. All of the offensive coordinators I had and all the different terminologies, everything at the running back position at Michigan State prepared me to this level with the Xs and Os on those blitz pickups and stuff.”

The blitz calls are universal, so Heyward just has to translate his knowledge of the playbook to the new position he could be playing. As such, Heyward is already exceedingly comfortable in what he is doing at fullback. While everyone should still view Heyward in the light of a tight end, the more he can do, the better the team will be for it.

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