Young Steelers getting their chance to shine with Cam Heyward out
When you lose someone like Cam Heyward for an extended period of time, it isn’t easy to replace. Heyward is an All-Pro for a reason, and is the vocal and emotional leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You don’t just replace that easily, but the Steelers have done the best they can in Heyward’s stead.
The one player who has received the most playing time due to Heyward being out of the lineup is rookie 2nd Round pick Keeanu Benton. Benton has played across the defensive front, and has been showing promise with every opportunity he receives.
Even if the Steelers weren’t planning on playing Benton this much at this juncture of his career.
“You get to see them in the fire before you wanted to put them in there, and I think they responded well.” said defensive line coach Karl Dunbar during the bye week.
“There’s no trepidation. Coach Mitchell when he was at LSU with me and when he was here, ‘If a dog will bite, he’ll bite as a pup,'” Dunbar said. “And these guys are learning how to bite.”
Benton has shown versatility within the Steelers’ system, and also a quick-twitch ability off the snap which has created opportunities for him in the backfield. To date, Benton has registered 13 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble in his limited, but expanding, role.
Ultimately, the Steelers await Heyward’s return to help bolster the defensive front, but the experience Benton is receiving is second-to-none. You can’t replace in-game experience, and Benton is getting just that, even if he’s been thrown into the proverbial fire.
“It’s business as usual,” Dunbar said. “You don’t replace a Cam Heyward, but you’ve got guys who have to step up. The guys are doing an admirable job filling that space.”
Benton isn’t alone in filling the void left by Heyward. Montravius Adams has seen an increase in his snaps on defense, and so have players like DeMarvin Lean and Isaiahh Loudermilk. It has been all-hands-on-deck replacing Heyward, and while there have been ups and downs, Benton has been a bright spot so far this season as his professional career trajectory is just taking off.
Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes as the team prepares for the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7.