PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a captain and key piece of their defensive line just in time for a tough matchup against running back. Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
The team activated defensive tackle Cameron Hayward On Wednesday from the injured reserve list to the 53-man roster. He was not given an injury designation for Thursday night — meaning he will remain active and play against the Titans.
Hayward has been out since suffering a groin injury earlier in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. The 34-year-old underwent surgery days after the September injury and was expected to return in about eight weeks. He returned about seven weeks after surgery.
“I trust what they’re doing, and I know my body, and I know I’m there in age, but I think I’ve progressed pretty well,” Hayward said last week.
The Steelers opened Hayward’s 21-day practice window in October. 26.
“I’m not rushing the process,” Heyward said after his first practice. “Healing, it’s working, but I’ve got to get reps under my belt. I’ve got to get more comfortable with what I’m doing. Trust myself, trust my body.”
Without Heyward, the Steelers run defense has been inconsistent. The team, however, fell behind in the run, holding off the Jaguars Travis Etienne At just 3.3 yards per carry, the Steelers are still giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry, which ranks in the bottom-10 in the league.
The Titans, meanwhile, average 4.5 yards per carry, though they have just 811 rushing yards. Henry, however, is fifth in the NFL with 526 rushing yards.
“He’s a difference maker,” teammates TJ Watt Heyward said about. “He really is. He’s been doing it for a long time. A guy who’s played in this matchup more than a few times himself, and any time you can plug in a player like him, it’s going to make a difference, no matter what.”
Hayward suffered the injury while attempting to sack the quarterback Brock Purdy 1 loss in the first half of the week. He knew the injury was serious and tried to play through the pain, but he quickly realized that wasn’t going to be possible.
“I kind of fell on my leg weird, and it split,” Hayward said. “At first I didn’t know what happened, but I couldn’t move the way I wanted to. I tore the adductor, and I’m already dealing with a core muscle injury. Both played a role and it happens in the game you play. I’m not running away from it.”