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Steelers defensive lineman, Cam Heyward, in a home game against the Cleveland Browns

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Steelers Captain Cam Heyward Calls for Defense to “Step Up” to Overcome the Absence of 2021 Reigning AP DPOY, TJ Watt

Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports

Steelers Captain Cam Heyward Calls for Defense to “Step Up” to Overcome the Absence of 2021 Reigning AP DPOY, TJ Watt

One Pittsburgh Steelers narrative that was consistently talked about this off-season was the defense’s goal of being a top unit in the NFL. The Steelers showed flashes of absolute brilliance by collecting five turnovers from the defending AFC Champs, the Cincinnati Bengals, last week in their 23-20 overtime victory. However, a moment occurred that had Steeler Nation holding their breath for a couple days.

The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) and one of the Steelers defensive captains, TJ Watt comes off the field holding his chest mouthing terrifying words. I’m no expert lip reader or anything, but “I tore my pec” clearly came out of his mouth several times as he walked off the field in a look of disgust. Steeler fans everywhere breathed a deep sigh of relief after learning one of the most elite defenders in the NFL wasn’t going to be lost for the entire season.


Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Officially Announces Star Edge Rusher TJ Watt Will Return In 2022, As Team Is No Longer Looking At Worst-Case Scenario


Steelers Defense Preps for Bengals

The Steelers’ Larry Ogunjobi (#99), T.J. Watt (#90), and Devin Bush (#55) get ready for a tough matchup against the Bengals in Pittsburgh, PA (Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers)

Now, the elite game-wrecker will be out of the lineup for at least four weeks as the team recently placed him on IR officially on Thursday. The team will miss the elite play of Watt greatly, that can’t be understated, but the Steelers won’t be without leadership at the helm during his absence. The Black and Gold’s other defensive captain and superstar, DL Cam Heyward knows the defense still has to get the job done! “The Standard is the Standard” no matter the level of discomfort this team faces and I’m sure head coach, Mike Tomlin‘s high expectations for this defense this season are still the same, even after the loss of a superstar player like Watt.


Steelers Playmakers and HC Mike Tomlin Expect Nothing Short of Greatness from the Defense in 2022


steelers, Cam Heyward, joint practice

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 14: Cameron Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes the field during player introductions before the game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field on November 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

“Obviously, you don’t want to play without a guy like that, but guys gotta step up,” Heyward said of Watt, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re not going out there saying that we have to change up our entire scheme and stuff, but we just gotta make sure we do our jobs.”

The defensive production of Watt doesn’t have to be lost completely, maybe just redistributed by keeping things simple and guys just doing their jobs. The “next man up” mentality for at least the next four weeks will be the key to the Steelers compensating for the loss of their defensive superstar. Before the final 53 was finalized, the Steelers made a splash via trade and brought in OLB Malik Reed to be the de facto first guy off the bench to spell Watt and his running mate, Alex Highsmith.


Steelers Acquisition Of OLB Malik Reed Already Proving Its Worth, As The 4-Year Veteran Is Certainly Ready For Extended Opportunity


Steelers OLB Malik Reed rushes the passer against the Bengals in Week 1

Credit: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Heyward isn’t just calling on Reed, he’s taking a strong stance as the team’s fearless leader and calling on every member of this potentially top unit in the NFL to get their jobs done moving forward!

 

What are yinz thoughts on Cam Heyward’s comments on the Steelers defense in the absence of fellow captain, TJ Watt? Let us know in the comment section below, or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

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  1. Pingback: Steelers Fearless Leader Cam Heyward Shoulders Responsibility for 2022 Struggles Without Star TJ Watt: "I Have to Step Up" - SteelerNation.com

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