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Steelers DL Cam Heyward officially placed on IR Thursday

Cam Heyward is expected to be out for the Pittsburgh Steelers for roughly eight weeks after suffering a groin injury in the season opener..

San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The longest-tenured member of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is taking another step in his recovery from injury, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

#Steelers perennial Pro Bowl DL Cam Heyward is having surgery to repair his groin today in Pittsburgh, per me and @MikeGarafolo. He’s expected to miss about eight weeks, but will be back midway through this season. He suffered his injury Sunday.

Heyward, 34, was officially placed on injured reserve Thursday and is expected to be out until mid-November, and that could severely alter the Steelers season.

Like a fine wine, Heyward has aged well in his NFL career, making the Pro Bowl in each of his last six seasons. During that span, there are very few, if any, who can make the argument that they have played better than Heyward. But given the fact that he is 34 years old, the Steelers drafted his potential long-term replacement this offseason in second-round pick out of Wisconsin, Keeanu Benton.

In his final collegiate season, Benton recorded 10 tackles for loss, proving that there is a lot of talent there, along with an ability to meet running backs in the backfield. He is adopting the right mindset as a rookie, soaking in as much knowledge as possible from players with legitimate pedigrees.

With Heyward out, Benton is expected to shoulder some of the load and contribute early and often for the Steelers defensive line. In his debut against the San Francisco 49ers last week, Benton recorded three tackles. The Steelers will also get some contributions from Montravius Adams, who played all 17 games for Pittsburgh last season.

Now, Benton and the Steelers look to rebound on Monday Night Football this week against the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.