The Steelers could be in a pickle this week against the Baltimore Ravens, as star defender Cameron Heyward may not be able to suit up.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had some bad luck as of late as a number of important players missed time over the month of November. To open the week, Mike Tomlin’s team had nine players on the injury report and three others who could miss this contest due to COVID testing. These numbers are in addition to the nine players they already have on IR.
Unfortunately, we recently received more bad news. Just two days before the Steelers are set to kick off at Heinz Field against the Baltimore Ravens, Gerry Dulac of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Cameron Heyward was not at practice on Friday due to an illness and is in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game. Here’s what Dulac had to say:
Defensive end Cam Heyward was not at the Steelers practice facility on Friday because of an undisclosed illness and the team is fearful he might not be able to play against the Baltimore Ravens, per sources.
Heyward’s loss could be catastrophic to a defense already likely to be missing T.J. Watt among others this week. With the absence of Stephon Tuitt all season and with Tyson Alualu out for the year, this team is already scraping for help along the defensive line, and losing one of the only players who can anchor against the run is more than concerning.
Steelers defense could be in big trouble
The Ravens have as many injuries as anyone with 13 players currently on IR — including their starting left tackle and starting running back — and another 14 on the injury report this week. Still, it’s hard to imagine how Pittsburgh is going to slow down Lamar Jackson and the NFL’s second-best rushing offense this season without a player like Cameron Heyward.
For my money, Heyward, Tuitt, Watt, and Alualu are the four best run defenders on the team, and not having a single one of them available for this contest could yield very poor results.
The Steelers have surrendered a whopping 586 rushing yards over the past three weeks, according to Pro Football Reference, and they can’t expect much more success against Baltimore if they are to play this game without another one of their best defensive linemen.
Despite an underwhelming season by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cameron Heyward is having a career year. If he isn’t able to go against the Baltimore Ravens this week, I don’t think Keith Butler’s defense will be able to stop a nosebleed.