PITTSBURGH (AP)The Pittsburgh Steelers placed rookie defensive end DeMarvin Leal on injured reserve Saturday with a knee injury, the latest setback for a banged-up defense that will be extremely shorthanded on Sunday against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Leal’s play had been one of the few bright spots for the Steelers (1-4), who have dropped four straight and suffered the franchise’s worst loss in 33 years last weekend in Buffalo.
Leal, a third-round pick out of Texas A&M, was hurt late in the week. He practiced on Wednesday and Thursday but did not on Friday. Leal made his first career start against the Bills and has 10 tackles in five games.
Pittsburgh will face Tampa Bay (3-2) with a secondary missing four of its top five defensive backs. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) and cornerbacks Cam Sutton (hamstring), Levi Wallace (concussion) and Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) are out. Safety Terrell Edmunds will return after missing last week with a concussion.
The Steelers will also be without starting tight end Pat Freiermuth, who spent the week in concussion protocol after taking a shot to the head after making a catch against Buffalo.
Pittsburgh will play its fifth straight game without reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. The star outside linebacker remains out indefinitely with a left pectoral injury. The Steelers are 0-8 without Watt since he was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft, including an 0-4 mark this year.
Brady has typically had his way with the Steelers throughout his career. He is 12-3 all-time against Pittsburgh, including a 9-3 mark during the regular season, all with New England. Brady has thrown 29 touchdowns against five interceptions when facing the Steelers.
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