On Friday Nov. 11 the Pittsburgh Steelers released their third and final injury report of the week, which included a few notable developments. But the new injury news was overshadowed by a one-word answer from outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who said “yes” when asked if he would be playing on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
“It’s been a long time coming. I feel very, very good about the week that I had and I’m excited to play and excited to be back at Acrisure Stadium and get the fans involved,” said Watt during a media scrum.
Watt hasn’t played since Pittsburgh’s season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 11, when he was credited with six solo tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit, two passes defensed and an interception before suffering a pectoral injury that necessitated a stint on injured reserve.
In other good news, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi (knee) was a full participant in practice on Friday and was removed from the status report. In addition, long snapper Christian Kuntz (ribs) and depth cornerback Levi Wallace (shoulder) were full participants for the third straight day.
2 Cornerbacks Ruled out vs Saints
Meanwhile, the rest of the Steelers injury news isn’t as good. Cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) and William Jackson III (back) have already been ruled out against New Orleans.
As for Witherspoon, he missed four games with a hamstring injury, then attempted to return in Week 8 vs. the Eagles. But he played so poorly that he was benched at halftime in favor of former undrafted free agent James Pierre, who figures to start at left cornerback in his place on Sunday. As for Jackson, he came to the Steelers with a back injury, having been acquired in a trade deadline deal in exchange for a late round draft pick in 2025.
Left Guard Kevin Dotson is Questionable
More notably, perhaps, is that starting left guard Kevin Dotson suffered an abdominal injury late in the week. He was listed as a limited participant in practice on Friday and is questionable for Sunday. Though Dotson’s play has been up and down in 2022 — and he received death threats in the wake of his performance during the Week 6 win over the Buccaneers — he has played 100% of the team’s offensive snaps this season, as per Pro Football Reference.
If Dotson can’t play, the Steelers could turn to Kendrick Green, who has yet to be active for a game this year after making 15 starts at center in 2021. Alternatively, the team could turn to J.C. Hassenauer, though Mike Tomlin might not want to risk his backup center to injury before giving Green a chance.
Then there’s outside linebacker Malik Reed, who is also listed as questionable for the game against the Saints, having been “excused for personal reasons.”
Last but not least, placekicker Matthew Wright will fill in for Chris Boswell (groin) for the first time in two years. In 2020, Wright appeared in three games while Boswell battled hip and groin injuries. He made all 11 kicks that he attempted, including four field goals.