Daniel Benjamin

Cam Heyward is one of the biggest reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best defensive units in the NFL.

Heyward has improved each of his first seven years in the league, and he is on pace for a career season this year.

Heyward, coming off his best game of the season, was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this year on Tuesday. The 28-year-old defensive end tied his season-highs with six tackles and two sacks in the Steelers’ 31-28 victory over Green Bay on Sunday. He also recorded three quarterback hurries. It is the second consecutive game that Heyward recorded multiple sacks and the third time this year.

Both of Heyward’s sacks came at a fantastic time for the Steelers. His first sack came on the Packers’ second possession of the second half, following Ben Roethlisberger’s second interception of the game. On third down and 15 yards to go from the Steelers’ 36, Heyward peeled off his block and viciously went after quarterback Brett Hundley as he stepped up in the pocket, bringing him down for a three-yard loss.

Heyward’s play theoretically took the Packers out of field goal range, but they still decided to attempt a 57-yarder that ended up being no good. The Steelers turned their outstanding field position into a touchdown and knotted the game up at 21.

On the very next defensive possession, Heyward sacked Hundley again on third down, forcing the Packers to punt.

“Man, he is having a great season, he really is,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “He is a difference maker.”

Heyward has 38 tackles and a career-high 9 sacks, which is tied for the ninth-most in the NFL, on the season. If the Ohio State product can register one more sack in his next five games, he would become the first Steelers player to record double-digit sacks in a season since 2010 when both James Harrison and Lamar Woodley accomplished the feat. Heyward is currently 10th on the franchise’s all-time sacks list with 34.

Heyward earned his first POW award following the team’s Week 4 victory over Baltimore. Heyward registered four tackles and two sacks that week against the Ravens.

The Steelers defense ranks in the top-10 of the league in several categories. They are fourth in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, third in passing defense and sixth against the run. The Steelers are also second with 38 sacks and tied for fifth in interceptions (12).

Steelers sign Terrell Watson to practice squad

The Steelers announced that they re-signed running back Terrell Watson and that he will be on the team’s practice squad. The Steelers released Watson on Saturday morning after promoting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint from the practice squad.

Watson had beat out Toussaint for the team’s final running back slot on the 53-man roster. Watson, in his second year, was mainly a return specialist during his 10-game stint with the team. He had a team-high 140 yards on seven kickoff returns. Watson also had five carries totaling eight yards.

It is possible that Watson will be brought back up to the 53-man roster later in the season.

Toussaint was a member of the Steelers special teams unit against the Packers and did not register any stats. Toussaint, a four-year pro, has 112 yards on 38 carries to go along with six receptions for 60 yards in 26 career games.

Several Steelers to take part in My Cause, My Cleats

For the second straight year, the NFL is allowing players to represent a charity that they are passionate about with the player’s cause initiative: My Cause, My Cleats. And several Steelers are expected to take part during their Monday night game against the Bengals. This initiative allows the players to design their own cleats with messages and colors that represent a charity that is meaningful to him.

This is a very cool idea that allows fans to see that a lot of players are very conscientious and thoughtful of the plight and struggles of others.

Jordan Berry, Antonio Brown, Cameron Heyward and Ben Roethlisberger are among the players who are slated to take part in the event.

Berry will represent Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that works to stop human trafficking.

“This is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises on the planet,” said Tim Ballard, founder of O.U.R. “There are millions of children forced into the commercial sex trade here in the U.S. and outside. We utilize every mechanism possible to infiltrate these places where children are being sold.”

Brown, along with Heyward and Roethlisberger, will be toting their foundations. Brown’s is “Live Your Vision” and one of its endeavors was giving away 800 backpacks filled with supplies to Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Heyward will be representing “Heyward House Foundation” and his cleats are designed to bring awareness to cancer. Heyward lost his father, former NFL running Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, to brain cancer.

Roethlisberger will support his namesake, “The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation,” which provides fire and police departments across the country with K-9 units and service dogs. The foundation has distributed more than $1.5 million since 2007. Roethlisberger generally gives grants to Pittsburgh area police and fire departments, as well as in the cities where the Steelers play each season.