Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward was the “schedule protector” for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL’s schedule release special that aired on Thursday. Being in charge of protecting the schedule, it makes sense that Heyward was asked to discuss his team’s upcoming season.
“The Steelers asked me to be the schedule protector and I just tried to make sure I did my best,” said Heyward after the schedule had already been released. “I got it right here. Hopefully, this is the right one, but we did a great job protecting this and we got a pretty cool schedule coming out.”
The Steelers are set to have the 12th toughest schedule in the NFL based on last year’s opponents winning percentage. That strength of schedule doesn’t take into account when they will be playing the opponents, and the Steelers will start with a brutal three-week stretch of playing three games in 11 days against three rivals. They do have a decent advantage though in traveling less miles than any other team in the NFL this season as all 17 of their regular season games will take place in the eastern time zone.
“Honestly, I don’t really look at it,” said Heyward on how factors in the schedule can affect a team. “For me, I’m like ‘line em’ up and let’s get going.’ Ya’ll make the schedule. It’s up for me to perform and it’s up for my team to perform. Everybody makes a big deal about who you play when and where, but who’s to say what their team looks like week 15 in.”
They start the season on the road against the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals before their home opener in week two against the New England Patriots. They then have to immediately head to Cleveland and play their first of five prime time games on Thursday night against the Browns. When asked what jumped out to him about their schedule, it was that first game against the Bengals that Heyward mentioned.
“That game in particular,” said Heyward. “What a way to start the season. Playing against the AFC Champions. That’s a great way to measure ourselves and I’m looking forward to it.”