PITTSBURGH (AP)Cam Heyward is adamant he’s going to play again this season.

The longest-tenured player on the Pittsburgh Steelers is keeping mum on when.

The veteran defensive tackle said Thursday he is “working his tail off” to recover from surgery to repair a groin injury he sustained early in a Week 1 loss to San Francisco. Heyward, who is on injured reserve, is out until at least midseason and Pittsburgh’s run defense has been leaky without the six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

The Steelers (2-2) host Baltimore (3-1) on Sunday smarting from a lopsided loss to Houston last week. Heyward has been visible on the sideline during games, hoping to serve as a sounding board for all.

“Just trying to be an extension from players to coaches and coaches to players,” Heyward said.

Pittsburgh has been manhandled at the line of scrimmage for most of the season’s opening month. The Steelers are 29th in the league in run defense and let the unheralded Texans pile up 139 yards on the ground to win going away.

Coach Mike Tomlin questioned his team’s physicality in the aftermath, though Heyward firmly believes his teammates can fix things without him.

“I think just as a group we just have to keep battling back, you know?” Heyward said. “Got to be more sound in the run game. If we get off the field and we control the line of scrimmage, it’s going to look a lot better.”

Heyward praised the play of rookie defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, who has been brought along quickly to help fill in. Benton has played 36% of the defensive snaps and already has a sack to go with 10 tackles.

“He’s getting more of a feel for the game,” Heyward said. “The mistakes he was making in the preseason, those have been eradicated. I think he feels a lot more comfortable.”

NOTES: QB Kenny Pickett (knee) was a full participant in practice on Thursday. … OLB Alex Highsmith (groin) did not practice after practicing on Wednesday. … G James Daniels (groin) and P Pressley Harvin (hamstring) also did not practice, making it possible they could miss their second straight game.

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl