June 14, 2024

First Call: Cam Heyward leaves future open; Travis Kelce rips Tomlin critics; Jags-Titans injury update

Thursday’s “First Call” features an unknown future for Pittsburgh Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward and an injury report on one of the games that impacts the Steelers’ playoff hopes.

Plus, Tyreek Hill’s agent provides an update on the scary house fire at his client’s home. And Travis Kelce has some opinions about media members who are critical of Mike Tomlin.

Comparing Mike Tomlin to Pittsburgh Steelers' All-Time Great Head Coaches | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is leaving the door open when it comes to his NFL future.

Heyward turns 35 in May. He suffered a groin injury during the season opener against San Francisco and missed the next six games. After returning from surgery, he has just two sacks and 31 tackles on the season. Those are his lowest totals since 2012 — his second year in the league.

Heyward has spoken cryptically about his future at the end of previous seasons, including last year. But in the past, he has always positioned that uncertainty around if the team would want him back. Take, for instance, what Heyward said after last year’s finale against Cleveland.

But this year, it sounds like Heyward is mulling over a decision based more on whether or not he wants to put his body through another season after this year’s difficult campaign. Heyward has one more year left on his contract at $22.4 million.

Taylor Swift’s boyfriend has some advice for critics of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: You need to calm down.

During the latest edition of his “New Heights” podcast with his brother (Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce), Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce ripped any media members who suggested the Steelers should move on from Tomlin.

“They were talking about firing him, what, seven weeks ago,” Jason Kelce said.

“The media is so dumb,” Travis Kelce responded. “Why do we do the media? Just a bunch of (jerks) … one of the best coaches the NFL has ever even seen.”

Well, fellas, let a dumb (jerk) media member set a few things straight. First off, some of those dumb (jerk) media members who said it was time for Tomlin to move on included his own former players.

Cameron Heyward: Was prepping for 'last ride' with Steelers before breakthrough - ESPN

Also, seven weeks ago, the Steelers were 6-3 and in a good spot for playoff positioning as they were about to visit Cleveland. They bombed against a backup quarterback from the Browns (Dorian Thompson-Robinson), and it was the offensive coordinator (not the head coach), Matt Canada, who was in everyone’s crosshairs.

That guy eventually did get fired.

Then Tomlin was under the spotlight only after the team plummeted to a 7-7 record and out of a playoff spot before pulling the typical Tomlin routine of getting a listing ship back to port after ramming it into an iceberg. That’s what took place with wins the past two weeks after losses to the awful Arizona Cardinals and equally rotten New England Patriots and a 16-point drubbing in Indianapolis.

Now, the club still needs one more victory in Baltimore and some help to avoid a seventh straight season without a playoff win and a postseason miss for the fourth time in six years.

It’s a little odd that Travis Kelce would be genuflecting so much at the altar of Tomlin’s 17-straight non-losing seasons when he has never had a losing season in 11 years himself. Plus, only one of those years has his team dipped below 10 victories, and he has amassed two Super Bowl rings, three conference titles and 12 total postseason victories in that time.

By comparison, since Kelce entered the league in 2013, Tomlin has a grand total of three postseason wins with eight of those 10 seasons ending without a playoff victory.

Frankly, Kelce’s track record since he entered the NFL (with Andy Reid as his head coach) is much more impressive than Tomlin’s has been.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb (jerk) media member. I’ll just shake it off.

A little help from their friends

The Steelers’ (9-7) most direct path into the AFC playoffs is to beat the Baltimore Ravens (13-3) on Saturday and have either the Buffalo Bills (10-6) lose to the Miami Dolphins (11-5) or the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) lose to the Tennessee Titans.

It’s a big ask for the 5-11 Titans to upset the Jags. Tennessee lost 34-14 in Jacksonville earlier this season. Plus, the Titans are dealing with an injured quarterback.

Will Levis suffered a foot injury last week against the Houston Texans. Plus, he had a preexisting ankle injury. However, Levis isn’t giving up hope when it comes to playing Sunday.

“I’m not limping around too much, so I feel pretty good,” Levis said via SI.com. “(Trainers) have a bunch of rehab stuff I am able to do with the ankle and the foot; they are different, obviously. I am just doing what they tell me to do.”

Titans coach Mike Vrabel says Ryan Tannehill will start if Levis can’t suit up.

Defensive back Anthony Kendall (knee), wide receiver Colton Dowell (knee), cornerback Eric Garror (illness/knee) and defensive lineman TK McLendon (shoulder) also didn’t participate in practice on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, according to Jaguars Wire, quarterback Trevor Lawrence was limited in the team’s Wednesday practice. So were wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.

Lawrence is battling a shoulder sprain dating back to a Week 16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 24-year-old missed the first game of his NFL career last Sunday in a 26-0 Jags win over the Carolina Panthers.

Tennessee is a 5.5-point underdog.

The home of Miami Dolphins star receiver Tyreek Hill caught fire Wednesday. The incident occurred while Hill was at practice.

According to Hill’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, there were family members home at the time, but there were no injuries, and apparently, the fire was mainly contained to a “limited area” of the house.

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