Another week, another really good offense the Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against, this time with a depleted defensive front.
Injuries continue to pile up in that area of the field for the Steelers as they’ll be without defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Carlos Davis this week, along with outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, turning all the attention to veteran defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram ahead of the Week 3 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field in an AFC North battle.
Through two games the Steelers have racked up five sacks and 13 quarterback hits. On Sunday, the Steelers will face an offense that has allowed a league-high 10 sacks of second-year quarterback Joe Burrow, providing the Steelers an opportunity to get after the young quarterback in what is shaping up to be a must-win game so early in the season for the black and gold.
During his weekly media session Thursday, Heyward told reporters that the pass rush has to heat up in Week 3 and moving forward to try and negate some of the high-flying offenses the Steelers are set to face in the coming weeks.
“I think that’s with any team, if they’re going to try and throw deep on us, the pass rush has really got to heat up,” Heyward said to reporters via Steelers.com. “You know, going against these high flying offenses, it’s hard for a quarterback to step up when he’s got pressure in his lap. So, you know, we got to continue to keep doing that. It’s going to be a process throughout the season.”
The Steelers could really use Heyward’s vaunted pass rush from the interior on Sunday, especially if Pittsburgh can get him matched up against rookies Jackson Carman and D’Ante Smith at right guard in the AFC North battle Sunday at Heinz Field.
It can’t be just Heyward though. Ingram – who has been a great addition to the Steelers and has turned back the clock through two games — must find another level, while second-year pro Jamir Jones must show why he made the Steelers out of training camp.
Practice squad elevation Derrick Tuzska will also see some snaps at outside linebacker on Sunday and will need to give the Steelers a chance when he’s on the field. It’s certainly patchwork at this point, but heating up the pass rush will start with the All-Pro in the middle of the Steelers’ front seven. He’ll set the tone, drawing plenty of attention, which could free up others around him for true one-on-one reps.