There have not been many bright spots for the Pittsburgh Steelers on the defensive side of the ball this year, or really on any side of the ball. Star defensive end Cameron Heyward has been one of the bright spots. The team captain and fan favorite is having the best season of his career in year 11. As the Steelers have dealt with numerous injuries to their defensive line, Heyward has held down the fort to the best of his ability. In Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens, he will need to do more of the same.
Cameron Heyward Being Asked To Do Everything – Again
Leading Depleted Defensive Line
Last year, Cameron Heyward had a great year, great enough to earn him a second-team All-Pro selection. His stats weren’t as good as they have been this year, but he played phenomenal football. In 2020, Heyward benefited from playing alongside his elite counterpart Stephon Tuitt. Mix in some help from Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, and it was easy to see why Heyward could really do damage. Offensive lines couldn’t send him as much attention as they probably would have liked to, because the Steelers defensive front was loaded with killers.
So far this year, Heyward hasn’t had the same help from his teammates. Tyson Alualu went down for the season in Week 2, a massive loss to one of the most important players on Pittsburgh’s now-struggling run defense. Stephon Tuitt hasn’t played yet this season, as he recovers physically from offseason surgery and mentally/emotionally from the tragic, surprise loss of his brother prior to the start of the season. Though Alex Highsmith has played very well, he’s not producing at the same level as Bud Dupree prior to his knee injury in 2020. T.J. Watt has been great but he has missed 2.5 games for the Steelers. Many times, Cameron Heyward has held down the defensive line by himself. Of course, he can only do so much, but his production and effort have been on full display as he looks to lead the beat-up unit.
More of the Same in Week 13
In Pittsburgh’s Week 13 matchup with the divisional rival Baltimore Ravens, Heyward will likely need to lead the defense once again. There’s still no sign of a Tuitt return and of course Alualu is injured. Heyward might benefit from the return of Carlos Davis, whose 21-day IR window was activated last week. That would be a big boost, as Heyward was being asked to play nose tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals and that’s just now where Heyward’s skills are best suited.
However, the big news is that T.J. Watt’s status for the game is in question due to COVID protocols. If he’s down for the game, it would be a massive hit to an already dreadful run defense. Pittsburgh has historically defended Lamar Jackson very well, but the defensive line was the biggest reason for that. If Pittsburgh trots out the current version of their defensive line minus Watt, they are in serious trouble. If the Steelers defense puts up any fight against the Ravens, it will be on the back of a superhero performance from Cameron Heyward.
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