NFL Insider Provides Injury Timeline on Steelers ‘Sack Master’ T.J. Watt

T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers

Getty T.J. Watt is helped up after being attended to on the field.

When T.J. Watt went down in the Pittsburgh Steelers-Detroit Lions game on November 14, the crowd of 58,000 went silent. The broadcast panned to the sullen faces of fans as teammates went down on one knee and surrounded Watt.

After a couple of anxiety-riddled minutes, Watt walked off the field under his own power before heading into the dreaded blue tent for further evaluation.

In his postgame press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin identified injuries to his star linebacker’s hip and knee.

On “Good Morning Football,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Watt would undergo an MRI on November 15. He is considered week-to-week and is expected to miss some time.

“We’ll see if he has to miss multiple weeks or whether or not the Steelers put him on injured reserve. It doesn’t seem like it’s season-ending,” Rapoport said.

An official update will come straight from the mouth of Tomlin during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, November 16. He’s usually very tight-lipped about injuries, so week-to-week is likely all we’ll end up getting until Watt returns to practice.

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If the Steelers take the short-term injured reserve route, Watt would be eligible to return in Week 14, a Thursday night game, versus the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2020, the NFL made changes to its injured reserve rule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A player can return to the team after three weeks, instead of the previously required eight-week minimum. Once said player returns to practice, the team has 21 days to place him on the active roster. The move proved to be popular with teams, coaches, players and fans, so the league retained the rule in 2021.

Putting Watt on IR would allow the team to sign another edge rusher to their 53-man, as depth on the current roster is shockingly thin. Looking at the official depth chart on Steelers.com, Taco Charlton and Derrek Tuszka (who?!) are second and third line to both Watt and Alex Highsmith.


Ingram Trade Haunting Steelers

One slight against the Steelers on the Melvin Ingram trade — other than getting virtually nada in return — is that they were in deep trouble if something were to happen to Watt or Highsmith. Watt and Highsmith had already missed Pittsburgh’s September 26 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with groin injuries.

Two weeks after shipping Ingram to Kansas City for a conditional 6th round draft pick, the fear becomes a reality.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but this isn’t the first move that has come back to bite the Steelers in the keester. In September, Pittsburgh cut two outside linebackers who were both immediately scooped up by other teams. 2021 draft pick Quincy Roche was claimed by the New York Giants and Jamir Jones claimed by the Los Angeles Rams.

The Steelers have a few alternatives in wake of the Watt injury: Poach a pass rusher from another team’s practice squad or add a free agent (poor selection this time of year). The team could also promote from within. While they don’t have any true pass rushers currently on their practice squad, defensive end Delontae Scott is a last-ditch option but has never played in an NFL game.


Other Steelers Injuries

An offensive line that was just starting to gel took significant hits during Sunday’s game. Guards Kevin Dotson and Trai Turner both exited the game with ankle injuries.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Dotson would miss a couple of weeks. He also noted that the foot injury Joe Haden sustained appears to be “nothing serious.”


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