Heyward Feels ‘Really Good’ About Steelers’ Deep Defensive Line

Last season, to say the run defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers was a sieve is a huge understatement as the team ranked dead last in the entire league stopping the run. Injuries certainly played a huge part, as standout defensive end Stephon Tuitt missed the entire season due to the myriad of losing his brother due to tragedy, as well as a knee injury. Starting nose tackle Tyson Alualu didn’t make it much further, suffering a broken ankle in week two against the Raiders.

Alualu is now back healthy, and even though Tuitt has since retired, the team has added significant upgrades along the front, signing the disruptive Larry Ogunjobi from the rival Bengals, coincidentally the team’s opponent come Sunday, along with rookie third-rounder DeMarvin Leal. The depth that haunted the team last year now becomes a strength, with names like Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams and Isaiahh Loudermilk rounding out the depth chart to turn this unit into one of the strongest on the team.

Earlier on, All-Pro defensive tackle Cam Heyward was asked about the upcoming matchup with the Bengals, and one thing he was not shy about his feelings on was the improved front as they hope to contain Cincinnati’s Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon, who ran wild against them last year, averaging well over 5.0 YPC in each game against them, highlighted by a 165-yard, two touchdown performance in late November.

“I feel really good about our depth,” Heyward said via “It’s not just Larry, it’s not just Tyson, it’s Chris Wormley, it’s Loudermilk. It’s Mon Adams, who we picked up last year, now has a full year under his belt. Having all these guys included, um, you know, makes you feel really good.”

He was even pressed on if he feels comfortable enough to take a breather here and there, as he and Alualu are the elder statesmen of the unit, at 33 and 35, respectively. He had some fun with his answer, recalling last season at some points where they only had four guys going into game day.

“I don’t have to play every snap. If we can have a great rotation and go out there and dominate, I’m good with it. It’s about us doing our jobs and making sure whoever’s out there is able to dominate the line of scrimmage. We want to corral it, be ready for the cutbacks and just play physical.”

If the defensive line can do their part, it will have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. The linebacker play will be better as they’re more capable to flow to ball carriers instead of being swallowed up by free-flowing blockers. After ranking 32nd in the league, obviously there’s only one way for this unit to go and that’s up, and the improved depth should weigh heavily in this.

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