Reports following Cam Heyward’s hamstring injury originally stated that he’d miss 2-3 weeks. Since the Pittsburgh Steelers have a bye week after the next game, it only seemed reasonable the team might give him that amount of time to come back to being one of the best players on its defense.
But on Monday, one day after Pittsburgh’s embarrassing 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins and six days before it has to take on Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots, Heyward remained vague on his playing status for Sunday.
“I am optimistic about it, but we won’t know until the end of the week,” Heyward said, per Steelers.com.
Heyward added that he knows he needs to be smart about the situation. It’s the kind of wishy-washy language players give when they either legitimately aren’t sure of their status or are and want to keep the level of intrigue up for the opponent.
With or without Heyward, who is leading the team in sacks for the third straight season, the Steelers need to find a way to defend better than they did against the Dolphins on Sunday. They gave up 474 yards to a team that entered averaging 304. Of that total, 222 came on the ground, including a 62-yard game-sealing touchdown run by Jay Ajayi just as the Steelers were selling out to get a needed stop in the final minute of the game.
The challenge will be much greater on Sunday against a Patriots team that has scored 33 and 35 points in two easy wins since Brady returned from a four-game suspension. Especially with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger possible to miss after meniscus surgery, Pittsburgh will need to find a way to contend with the Patriots. It’s a tough task if inside linebacker Ryan Shazier also misses with an MCL injury.