Pittsburgh Steelers Activate Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman

The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to get their veteran leader back on the field. The team officially activated defensive lineman Cameron Heyward from injured reserve, clearing the way for the six-time Pro Bowler to return in time for Thursday Night Football's showdown with the Tennessee Titans.

Heyward has been unavailable since injuring his groin early on in the Steelers' humiliating 30-7 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1. Even on a mere 14 snaps, he managed a quarterback hit.

Due to the sometimes thankless nature of his position, Heyward hasn't amassed a high profile outside of Pittsburgh, but he's quietly put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career and remains near the peak of his powers. He collected 10.5 sacks last season and tied a career-high with 23 quarterback hits, all while earning an elite 89.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

With their captain back on the field, the 4-3 Steelers should see a significant boost to their pass rush and run defense, but they're a long way from being credible contenders. They rank 30th in yards gained AND yards allowed; if not for a +7 turnover ratio and a pair of dramatic fourth-quarter comebacks, they could be one of the worst teams in football. Heyward is certainly a difference-maker, but he can only do so much.

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