Being teammates, at least active ones, is temporary. Being brothers is for life. So while Cameron Heyward may be the elder statesman guide in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room for Connor, he’s always going to be big brother.
We’ve seen that come up time and again over the course of the 2022 season from the time that the Steelers drafted Connor in the sixth round, 11 years after making Cameron their first-round draft pick in 2011.
The most notable moment by far was, of course, Connor’s first NFL touchdown in Atlanta, where he grew up. It was an emotional day for numerous reasons, not the least of which being the fact that they had just visited their late father’s grave in the area earlier in the day.
But that wasn’t the only notable play Connor made during his rookie season. He actually had a decent handful of big catches considering the amount he was used. One of them came in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns as they fought for a playoff spot.
The team’s in-house documentary series, The Standard, captured the moment of that catch and Cameron’s reaction on the sideline. He tried to play it stoic, for the most part, but it had his teammates fired up. “You raised him right!”, safety Miles Killebrew yelled. Multiple teammates made references to “big brother”.
The Steelers do not allow embedding of YouTube links, so I’ll include a separate line here to take you directly to the isolated clip of the scene from the 19-minute episode.
Connor Heyward finished his rookie season amassing 174 snaps on offense, picking up playing time as the season progressed. He played double-digit snaps in six of the final seven games, notably, including 25 in that finale against the Browns.
He caught a season-high three passes in the game on four targets (though notably the incompletion was an arguably catchable albeit difficult target in the end zone), adding one six-yard run. In all, he caught 12 passes on 17 targets for 151 yards with one touchdown, plus 27 yards on two carries.
He also finished the season with nine tackles, notably, as part of his extensive playing time on special teams. Knowing that it would be a cornerstone of his employment, the younger Heyward spoke enthusiastically about playing special teams even before he was drafted. He ended up logging 284 snaps for Danny Smith.
While the ultimate goal is always winning, it has still been pretty special to witness Cameron and Connor have the opportunity to play together as teammates. Considering they’re nearly a decade apart in age, that’s not an easy thing to do, much like J.J. Watt never got to play with T.J. even at the lower levels.