PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will be without their longest-tenured player and a defensive captain for at least four weeks, but likely longer, after the team placed defensive lineman Cam Heyward on injured reserve Thursday.
Heyward underwent surgery earlier in the day for a groin injury sustained during the Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a source confirmed to ESPN.
Heyward, 34, sustained the injury in the first half, and although he tried to go back in the game, he was ruled out by halftime.
“Obviously losing Cam is significant, but that’s what this team is about,” coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “Replacing Cam not a one-man job, man, it is a multiple-man job and a coach’s job because it changes your schematics when you lose significant players. We all acknowledge that, and we all run to that, not away from that.”
Heyward, a first-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2011, recorded at least 10 sacks each of the past two seasons, and he’s been a captain since 2015. His injury and placement on IR marks the second year in a row that the Steelers had a costly loss in Week 1; T.J. Watt tore his pectoral muscle against the Cincinnati Bengals and missed seven games in 2022.
“He’s a smart veteran, he comes to the side and he tells us what he sees,” second-year defensive end DeMarvin Leal said of Heyward. “He also great at communicating about what’s going on on the field. We still got Larry [Ogunjobi]. We still have [T.J.]. We still have Alex [Highsmith], so it’s not like we’re not going to have experienced vets that see something and won’t communicate it. We’re just going to have to be able to hold it down for him.”