PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end DeMarvin Leal had surgery to repair the meniscus on his right knee, but expects to return this season, he said Wednesday.
Leal initially felt a problem with his knee in the Steelers’ Week 5 loss at Buffalo and then aggravated it at practice last week, leading to the decision to have surgery.
The Steelers placed Leal on the injured reserve list in advance of the team’s Week 6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He must miss at least four weeks while on injured reserve.
Recovery time for a torn meniscus is typically in the four-to-eight week range, though that can very depending on the severity of the injury.
The Steelers replaced Leal in the lineup with second-year end Isaiahh Loudermilk, who had been a healthy scratch for the first five games.
The team’s third-round pick out of Texas A&M, Leal has had a strong start to his NFL career. Despite a deep defensive line group in front of him, he carved out a sizable role early in his career.
Leal played close to a quarter of the team’s defensive snaps over the first five games, and showed his versatility by playing both 3-4 defensive end and rush end in the team’s 4-2 Nickel and 4-1 Dime packages. He got even more work in the latter role after the Week 1 injury to T.J. Watt opened up additional playing time.
Through five games, Leal has recorded nine tackles, one tackle for a loss and defended three passes.
The Steelers have one other injury along the defensive line to monitor this week, as tackle Larry Ogunjobi is dealing with a knee injury and is expected to be limited in practice this week.
Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Montravius Adams and Chris Wormley are the team’s other regulars along the defensive line.