Steelers Captain Cam Heyward Lauds Effort of Young Defensive Linemen: ‘They Answered the Call’
CLEVELAND — The Steelers have sustained a lot of adversity along the defensive line this season. With their outside linebackers in and out of the lineup, on top of multiple injuries on the interior to Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, and Carlos Davis, the Steelers have never been able to truly find their footing on the defensive line.
However, on Sunday, the Steelers stepped up big time against a talented Browns rushing attack. The Browns came into the game leading the NFL in yards per carry with 5.3, and in rushing yards per game with 170.4 yards per game. Yet, the defense stood strong and only allowed 96 total rushing yards for a mere 4.2 yards per carry. Without much continuity or proven talent on the defensive line, Cam Heyward credits the unit in stepping up.
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“We stayed in our damn gaps,” Heyward said. “We got off our blocks and allowed the linebackers to flow. Our corners played physical. It was a collective effort. You know, Buggs, Wormley, T.J. Highsmith, Henry Mondeaux, Schobert, Devin Bush, and then our corners coming down. Cam Sutton and Joe Haden both did a great job of that.”
However, while Heyward acknowledged it was a collective effort, there was also plenty of time throughout the bye week that he thought the younger players contemplated the performance versus and used it as a springboard. As a collective group showcasing growth, Heyward was more than pleased with the young defensive lineman in Buggs, Mondeaux, and Loudermilk.
“I just think Coach Dunbar does a great job of coaching us all up,” Heyward said. “The attention to detail, it’s a respect to Coach Dunbar and the guys really learning from their mistakes. You know, we had a long bye to really think about that Seattle game. But they had to answer the call, and they did, and that’s huge.”
As the younger players continue to get acclimated to physical AFC North football, Heyward is trying to be their guiding presence. For Mondeaux, Buggs, and Loudermilk, they are all in lockstep with taking the lessons.
“You know, everybody likes to talk about what happened last year, but I told my young guys on the defensive line, there is no better way to introduce yourselves to this rivalry than with a win right now,” Heyward said. “I just thought they answered the call. Was it perfect? No. But going into the half-tied at 3-3, that says a lot. The final being 10-15, you don’t get many scores like that.”
The Steelers will now have to come off the heels of this victory to face a young, talented Bears squad led by a dynamic quarterback in Justin Fields. In what may have been the toughest rushing offense they have faced so far this year, they rose to the occasion.