The last time Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow squared off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the then-rookie quarterback out of LSU was bruised and battered as the Bengals allowed four sacks and nine quarterback hits to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ vaunted front seven in Pittsburgh’s 36-10 win in the Week 10 matchup.
One week later, Burrow would be lost for the season as he suffered a torn ACL against the Washington Football Team on a brutal hit in the pocket.
Through two weeks of his second season, Burrow continues to take a beating in the pocket as he was sacked five times and hit seven total against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and then another five sacks and nine total hits in the Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears. Now, Burrow prepares for a tough Steelers’ front that — while battered themselves — contain plenty of talent that can get after any quarterback and create long days in the pocket.
Asked Wednesday about what makes the Steelers’ front seven and its pass rush so special, Burrow stated that the different ways the Steelers can create pressure is the hardest thing to deal with when playing the black and gold.
“It’s a combination of all of it. That’s what the great defenses do,” Burrow said to reporters Wednesday via Bengals.com. “They have great players and great scheme to back it up. And they have obviously T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward. Now, they got Melvin Ingram over there. You know, we played him last year too. He’s a really good player. So, you know, they’ve got a lot of different guys that can create pressure from a lot of different ways.”
Watt will try and work through a groin injury this week ahead of Sunday’s matchup after leaving the Week 2 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders with the injury, while second-year pass rusher Alex Highsmith also tries to battle back from a groin injury that knocked him out of the game late in Week 2. On Wednesday, the two outside linebackers were on the Steelers’ injury report as Watt was listed as a limited participant with his groin injury, while Highsmith did not practice.
Along with Watt and Highsmith, the Steelers will be without veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, making depth a real concern in the trenches for the Steelers, who were already without Stephon Tuitt opposite Heyward. Second-year defensive tackle Carlos Davis also remains in doubt with a knee injury that kept him out of the Week 2 contest. On Wednesday, Davis did not practice for the fourth straight day.
The Bengals could be dealing with some trouble of their own up front as starting guard Xavier Su’a-Filo missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, which would force a rookie in Jackson Carman or D’Ante Smith into the starting lineup for the Bengals.