Cole Holcomb suffered a frightening knee injury in last night’s Steelers victory. As a result, the linebacker will see his debut season in Pittsburgh come to a premature end.
Holcomb was carted off the field in the first quarter after suffering the injury, one which head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed after the game was “serious.” He remained in hospital overnight but has since been discharged, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. Holcomb will nevertheless require surgery, Pelissero adds, and he will miss the remainder of the campaign as a result.
The 27-year-old was part of Pittsburgh’s renovations at the inside linebacker spot, signing a three-year, $18MM deal in free agency. That pact marked an end to Holcomb’s four-year run in Washington, despite the interest the Commanders had in retaining him. A starting spot and a healthy workload was provided upon arrival with the Steelers, as the former fifth-rounder logged a 77% snap share. He posted 54 tackles (tied for the team lead) and a pair of forced fumbles across eight games.
As a result, Holcomb’s loss will be acutely felt on a Pittsburgh defense which has already put up underwhelming numbers in several categories. The North Carolina product posted a career-best PFF grade of 72.2 in run defense for 2023, so his absence will deal a blow to a unit surrendering an average of 133 yards per game on the ground. The Steelers will rely more heavily on Elandon Roberts and Kwon Alexander, the other members of the team’s three-man rotation at the LB spot.
While that pair will be counted on to close out the season, Holcomb will turn his attention to the rehab process after his surgery. Fortunately, Pelissero adds that a full recovery is expected, but his ability to return to full health in time for 2024 will be crucial given his importance to the Steelers’ defense. Holcomb is due $6MM in each of the next two years, with scheduled cap hits of $7.64MM for both of those seasons.