The Steelers will be without one of their main pieces on defense as safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is inactive for tonight's game against the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium.
Fitzpatrick suffered a hamstring injury against the Jaguars last week, missed practice all week and was officially ruled out on Wednesday.
"It's unfortunate," said linebacker Alex Highsmith. "He is a leader on our defense. He is the best in the league at what he does. It's an opportunity for other guys to step up. I know we have capable guys that are going to be able to fill in for him. I am just excited to see how those guys step up."
One player who stepped up last week when Fitzpatrick left the game was safety Miles Killebrew.
And rest assured, he is ready to step up again.
Killebrew knows what the defense is losing without Fitzpatrick on the field, especially from a communication standpoint, but is willing to put his hand in the pile to help out.
"He is a huge communicator," said Killebrew. "Guys are going to have to step up, including myself, if their number is called and communicate. It's going to be something we have to talk it through and handle it one play at a time.
"I think that is something that we have to take across the board, a spectrum of positions. He is so good at (communicating). He is the general in the back end. It is going to have to be a lot of guys adding a little bit more to their load and pulling the sled together."
Killebrew normally sees the bulk of his work on special teams, but he is always prepared if called upon.
"I would call it a readiness," said Killebrew. "We have to be ready to play whatever our positions are. That's what I am. I am a safety, and that is what we have to be ready to do.
"Special teams is a whole other game, but at the end of the day it's still running and tackling. Football's not that complicated. We have to make sure we are playing the positional game and make sure we're talking and seeing things together the same way."
The defense will get a bump, though, with defensive tackle Cameron Heyward being activated from the Reserve/Injured List. Heyward was placed on the list after suffering a groin injury in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
The timing of getting Heyward back works well for the defense as they will face a tough test in Titans running back Derrick Henry.
"He is a difference maker. He really is," said linebacker T.J. Watt of Heyward. "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."
It also doesn't hurt to get another veteran leader back, one who is also a defensive captain along with Watt.
"It's going to be huge for us," said linebacker Alex Highsmith. "I can't wait to have him back. I know he has been working his butt off to get back. We are all excited. It's going to be huge for us on the field, but also overall leadership wise having his presence around is going to be huge."
Below is the full list of inactives for tonight's game
Bringing you the action: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.
No. 2 QB Mason Rudolph (3rd QB)
No. 39 S Minkah Fitzpatrick
No. 60 T Dylan Cook
No. 94 NT Armon Watts
No. 96 NT Breiden Fehoko
No. 14 WR Colton Dowell
No. 17 QB Ryan Tannehill
No. 21 CB Roger McCreary
No. 42 OLB Caleb Murphy
No. 66 OT Chris Hubbard
No. 94 DT Jaleel Johnson