Cameron Heyward is back.
The Pittsburgh Steelers activated their longtime defensive lineman from the reserve/injured list, the team announced Wednesday, after he underwent groin surgery earlier this fall. Heyward returned to practice last week and was a full participant Wednesday. He will enter Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans without a designation.
“It felt good, it’s been some weeks,” Heyward said of his return, via the team. “It’s been a while. I am excited to just get back out there, get in the flow of things.”
Heyward went down due to a groin injury in the team’s season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He underwent surgery on his groin soon after and was expected to miss eight weeks.
Heyward has rarely missed time due to injury throughout his 13-year career with the Steelers. Before his groin injury, he had missed just two games since 2016. The former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State had 74 total tackles last season and 10.5 sacks, the most he has recorded since 2017.
It’s unclear what Heyward’s role will be Thursday or how much he’ll play, but his presence will be a welcome one when he’s on the field.
"He is a difference-maker. He really is," linebacker T.J. Watt said, via the team. "He has been doing it for a long time. A guy that has played in this matchup more than a few times. Anytime you can plug in a player like him, it's going to make a difference, no matter what."
Heyward isn’t the only Steelers player making his return Thursday. Quarterback Kenny Pickett said Tuesday that he is “playing, for sure” against the Titans after he left last week’s game early due to a rib injury.
Pittsburgh holds a 4-3 record headed into the matchup but is fresh off a rough 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Steelers have won two of their past three games, and they sit second in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens.