Pittsburgh Steelers finished their Week 8 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens with a depleted defensive line. With nose tackle Tyson Alualu exiting the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and not returning, defensive captain Cameron Heyward did his best to play through injury. After leaving the game briefly in the fourth quarter, Heyward returned only to have to be helped off the field with 0:08 remaining in the game.
Following the Steelers 28-24 victory, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had little information in regards to the two players. Rather than have to wait for Tomlin’s update in his Tuesday press conference, reports have surfaced as to the severity of both injuries.
First up, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Heyward is dealing with a minor quadricep injury.
#Steelers DL Cam Heyward, who limped off the field yesterday afternoon, is dealing with a minor quad injury, source said. Nothing serious.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 2, 2020
It’s good news to see the Steelers defensive captain is dealing with the injury in a minor category rather than something which could cause him to miss significant time. When it comes to a “minor quad injury,” there are several explanations. First, it could be a mild strain which was bothering Heyward. Additionally, it could have simply been a cramping issue. Coach Tomlin said Heyward exited the game the first time with cramps. Since it appears there is not a major injury, it would make sense that the All-Pro defensive tackle was continuing to deal with cramps throughout the game.
As for Alualu, although having a knee injury is concerning he was seen standing and walking on the sideline throughout the game. According to ESPN Jeremy Fowler, Alualu is dealing with a sprained MCL and is getting an MRI for confirmation.
Initial diagnosis for Steelers DL Tyson Alualu is a sprained MCL, per source. Waiting for MRI to confirm. Could miss some time but not considered major.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 2, 2020
Of the two injuries, it appears Alualu’s has the greater chance of having him miss some time, but it does not look like it is something which will cost him a large portion of the remaining 2020 season. Of course, this is assuming the MRI confirms the initial diagnosis.
For the time being, it appears as if the Steelers have dodged a bullet when it comes to having a depleted defensive line. The Steelers finished the game against the Ravens with three healthy defensive lineman in Stephon Tuitt, Isaiah Buggs, and Henry Mondeaux. The Steelers placed Chris Wormley on the Reserve/Injured List on Saturday which will keep him out of action for at least three weeks. Mondeaux was playing in just his second NFL game and Isaiah Buggs was called into action after being a healthy scratch in Week 7. Although Buggs had a rough start to the day and struggled up through halftime, he responded in the second half and was in on several key players as the Steelers sealed the victory.
Should either player miss Sunday’s game, the Steelers still have seventh-round draft pick Carlos Davis on their active roster although he has been inactive every game this season. Additionally, the Steelers have UDFA Calvin Taylor on their practice squad. While it is hopeful the Steelers will not have to call on their other depth pieces, they do have several players available although inexperience is the biggest factor.
Stay tuned to BTSC for continued coverage as the Steelers prepared to take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9.