Steelers suffer crucial blow to defense, starting linebacker is carted off the field

This doesn't look good...
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen their fair share of injuries already this season. In Week 1 against the 49ers, both Cameron Heyward and Diontae Johnson suffered soft tissue injuries that landed them on IR in the first half of the season. Last week, Minkah Fitzpatrick went down with a potentially serious hamstring injury and he wasn't able to play tonight.

Now they just lost another starting defensive player. In the first half against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, starting linebacker Cole Holcomb went down clutching his left knee in pain. Within minutes he was carted off the field. Team spokesperson, Burt Lauten quickly confirmed that he would not return to the game.

Holcomb isn't Pittsburgh's top defender, but he's had a very good start to his Steelers career. What makes this injury so concerning is the potential severity of it. Covering WR DeAndre Hopkins down the seam, Holcomb collided with safety Keanu Neal and grimaced in pain as he fell to the ground.

Because the cart came on so quickly, this has the feel of a potential ACL tear, though nothing has been confirmed at this point in time. If this proves to be the case, Holcomb's 2023 season will be over.

Holcomb is Pittsburgh's top off-ball linebacker and one of their biggest free-agent signings from the 2023 offseason. So far, he's gone above and beyond meeting expectations and has been a massive improvement from both Devin Bush and Myles Jack from a season ago.

Holcomb was a true three-down linebacker. His athletic traits helped him succeed as a biltzer, run defender, and coverage linebacker. In his absence, the Steelers will turn to a heavier dose of both Kwon Alexander and Elandon Roberts.

We wish Holcomb the best and a speedy recovery. This loss could prove to impact the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense more than we would like to believe. On a roster that has dealt with bad and inconsistent play from players on both sides of the football, Holcomb was a steady and reliable piece for this team playing some of the best football of his career. Let's hope he's okay.