Steelers land 4 players as NFL All-Pro selections
Mike Tomlin gathered his players after practice Friday to announce the four Steelers players named to the first-team Associated Press All-Pro list.
Cameron Heyward didn’t expect to hear his name called. After all, he was snubbed once this year when he was passed over last month for the Pro Bowl roster.
But Heyward’s name was called, along with wide receiver Antonio Brown, running back Le’Veon Bell and right guard David DeCastro. It was the first such honor for Heyward in his seven NFL seasons.
“I’m very humbled and grateful to get it, but I can’t do it without the teammates I have,” Heyward said. “It’s an extreme honor, but it’s the guys around me who make me feel good.”
All-Pro is considered a higher designation than the Pro Bowl, which Heyward also has never made. He and Penn Hills native Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams were selected as the team’s interior defensive linemen.
“It’s a hell of a consolation prize,” Heyward said. “That’s one of those things that I can tell my kids I was an All-Pro. I’m very happy to be recognized like that. It’s unbelievable.”
Heyward set a career high with 12 sacks, the most by a Steelers defensive lineman since Keith Willis had a dozen in 1986. Heyward also had 22 quarterback pressures, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
“A guy like Cam getting it is awesome,” said DeCastro, a first-team selection for the second time in his career. “Everyone was happy when Coach T made the announcement. He obviously deserves it.”
The Steelers had the most first-team selections. The Rams had six when factoring in second-team picks.
“It says a lot about our team,” Bell said. “You could have more guys, but you can’t fill our whole team up with first-team All-Pros.”
Brown was the only unanimous choice among the 50 media members on the panel that determines the All-Pro selections. He was selected to the first team for the fourth consecutive year after leading the NFL with 1,533 receiving yards in 14 games.
Bell was a first-team pick at the flex position. He also was named to the second team at running back. He finished third in the NFL in rushing and was second in yards from scrimmage. Bell also was a first-team choice in 2014.
“It means a lot to me,” Bell said. “It’s a great honor.”
DeCastro was a first-team pick in 2015 and a second-teamer last season.
“It’s definitely nice,” DeCastro said. “You never discount being recognized in this sport, although I never have played for the individual recognition.”