Already reeling from their fourth straight loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a fresh dose of bad news on Tuesday afternoon.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward announced that he will miss the remainder of the season with a pectoral injury he suffered against Dallas just two days prior. Heyward led the Steelers with three sacks this season and, alongside Stephon Tuitt, essentially made up their interior pass rush.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Heyward will have surgery.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been in my corner this season,” Heyward wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday. “It pains me to say that I will not get to continue playing this season. My role will change as I can not play but it will not change the goals the team has set out. My support for this team will only grow and I look forward in watching this team grow and fight on. Hate being on the sideline but there is a greater plan taking place. My patience will be tested but I look forward to 2017. My hand will remain in the pile no matter what!”
The Steelers‘ pass rush was already wearing thin. The team was leaning heavily on 38-year-old James Harrison, who has consistently been the team’s highest-graded rusher despite not playing many snaps.
Heyward had all three of his sacks in one game this season — a 43-14 romp of the Kansas City Chiefs back in early October. That game — and level of dominance from Pittsburgh’s defense — seems much longer ago.