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What the loss of Cam Heyward means for the Steelers

How the loss of the All-Pro defensive linemen will affect the Steelers

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

After sustaining a groin injury against the San Francisco 49ers, Cam Heyward is getting surgery to repair the injury and is expected to miss up to eight weeks.

So what does this mean for the Steelers? It definitely handicaps them, but specifically how?

The Steelers run defense is bad

The performance we saw yesterday tells the tale of the Steelers’ run defense. Christian McCaffrey racked up over 150 yards rushing on almost seven yards per carry. The Steelers knew it was coming, and they had no answers for it. They were also 18th against the run last year in terms of EPA per play- it’s not a strong unit even with Cam Heyward. Now, they’ll be heavily dependent on guys like Isaiahh Loudermilk, Demarvin Leal, and rookie second-round pick Keeanu Benton to step up.

The road ahead

To make things worse, here are some of then notable running backs the Steelers will be facing over the next several weeks:

  • Nick Chubb
  • Josh Jacobs
  • Gus Edwards (Baltimore is excellent at running regardless of who is behind Lamar Jackson)
  • Travis Etienne and Tank Bigsby
  • Derrick Henry
  • Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon

There is a very real chance that if the depth on the defensive line doesn’t step up, teams are just going to run it down the Steelers’ throat week after week. Especially Cleveland, Baltimore, and Tennessee- teams whose offenses are built around the run game.