3 keys to success for the Steelers defense vs. Browns tonight

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1. Solve Cam Heyward's Absence Early

Last year it was TJ Watt, this year it's Cam Heyward. Mike Tomlin would likely say something along the lines of 'That's just the nature of our business', but that doesn't really discount how much it sucks to lose an elite veteran presence in the middle of your defense.

While the Steelers made significant efforts to reinforce the defensive interior during the offseason, they were more intended to compliment Heyward rather than take anything off his plate. Now his snaps are completely up for grabs and how they are dispersed is going to be a storyline for Steelers fans to watch during the contest.

Most eyes look toward rookie second-round pick Keanu Benton. He was recognized for his performance last week in his NFL debut, but is he ready to shoulder the load? DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk will get their looks, both of whom looked improved last week as individuals. Even still, they both have to take a significant step to help fill the gap left by Heyward.

We'll talk about Chubb and the running game in a bit, but something that can't be discounted is the discipline required to put pressure on Watson properly. He's slippery in the pocket and when the play breaks down completely he becomes a torturous problem.

Getting into Watson's face won't be easy for anyone except TJ Watt this week, as he'll likely bully reserve rookie right tackle Dawand Jones, even if Jones thinks he has some answers for the Steelers' all-time leading sack artist. The interior will be challenged to do the same, however. Getting there is only half the battle.

Since returning to play last year, Watson has been up and down as a passer, but as a runner, he's just as dangerous as ever. Last week Watson opened up the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run. He had five rushes total for 45 yards. Without Heyward on the field, the defensive line has to keep their collective head on a swivel to contain Watson's scrambling ability.