PITTSBURGH — Larry Ogunjobi is the critical piece for the Steelers, with Cam Heyward set to miss considerable time with a groin injury. However, Ogunjobi has dealt with a foot injury that has limited him since the end of training camp, keeping him out for those practices leading up to their first game against the 49ers. Ogunjobi tried to get on the field, but he still is not 100%.
In practice on Thursday, Ogunjobi led the defensive line through the drills without Heyward, an unusual sight at practice over the last few years. While Ogunjobi is certainly the leader of the room right now, the young guys will have to step up in a big way with Nick Chubb coming to town.
For the defensive line, their game against the Browns will become critical to decide how the team’s future will go without Heyward. Guys such as Keeanu Benton, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Armon Watts, and others will be critical to step up with Heyward out. It is a tough blow for the Steelers to swallow for their All-Pro defensive lineman, who has been a bastion of health over his career. The groin injury is the first significant injury he has had in recent years, and now the load will go even more onto T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith to make things happen off the edge. Markus Golden and Nick Herbig can with that on the edge as well.
Breiden Fehoko is the top candidate to replace Heyward’s roster spot on the 53-man roster. If he goes on injured reserve, Heyward will be out through at least the Steelers’ bye week, but it seems likelier that he will be out until November. If that occurs, Heyward’s likely return date would be November 12th against the Green Bay Packers.