Pittsburgh Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward has been cleared from the NFL concussion protocol, the team announced on Thursday.
Heyward was a surprise addition to the protocol last Saturday. He appeared to be able to finish his team’s Week 15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts without issue, but then reported symptoms after the game.
Heyward started his return from the concussion protocol early in the week. He was a limited participant in Tuesday’s practice and was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Thursday before he practice, he was cleared by the NFL’s independent neurologist, the last hurdle to playing this week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s been a miserable season for health in the Steelers defense, and Heyward landing in the concussion protocol was the injury was the second major one to a Steelers defender in the game. The Steelers lost starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to a left knee injury in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick is out this week.
Heyward played his eighth game on Saturday, missing six games after a groin injury suffered in Week 1. Fitzpatrick played his 10th, dealing with a hamstring injury and a broken hand. The number of full games they’ve played together has been near zero.
For the year, Heyward has 30 tackles and two sacks, one of the lowest totals of his career in both categories at this point in the season.