PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will be without Pat Freiermuth on Sunday against the Buccaneers, and that means that Connor Heyward and Zach Gentry will have to step up in a big way for Pittsburgh against a battered Tampa Bay secondary.
With the rookie Heyward getting ready to make his first NFL snaps, some leaders on the offense are impressed by what the rookie has been able to do up to this point. That includes captain Najee Harris, who has seen Heyward grow over his time in Pittsburgh. Freiermuth is out, and Heyward has his opportunity to make a splash.
“Man, Connor is going to get a lot of reps, obviously with Pat out,” Harris said. “But just seeing it now and just earlier in the year, this guy can make some big-time plays. He’s made a lot of catches that raise eyebrows. Obviously, he will get a big opportunity against a good team, too.”
Earlier in the week, Zach Gentry was on the injury report with a knee injury. However, after two straight days of practicing, he will suit up. This will end up being Gentry’s first game as the true first tight end without Freiermuth on the field. He takes that role seriously as an opportunity to prove his worth to the Steelers.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for me,” Gentry said. “We’ll see what happens with Pat, but if he’s not able to, I’ll be ready to step in. Meatball (Connor Heyward) will be ready to step in, too. We’ll get it done.”
With the Buccaneers bringing a stout defense to the table, Pittsburgh will need all hands on deck. That includes Heyward and Gentry as they get their big opportunities as Pat Freiermuth will miss the game. But just how influential could they be on the field in a win? It might not just be while catching passes, but in the running game, too.