The Pittsburgh Steelers simultaneously took a hit and dodged a bullet in Week 1 of the NFL season, when superstar pass rusher T.J. Watt was injured with a pectoral injury.
Many around the NFL world assumed the worst when Watt said the muscle was torn. Although the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year did, in fact, tear the muscle, the tendon remained intact. Ergo, Watt will be able to return this season.
While the timeline is unclear, the only guarantee is that Watt will miss an additional three games after missing the Steelers’ Week 2 bout against the Patriots. Watt was placed on IR after the injury, meaning he won’t be eligible to return until after Week 5, but his timeline looks more like a six-week return after he avoided surgery.
Watt, for his part, already sent a clear message he’ll be back this year.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) September 13, 2022
How long is T.J. Watt out?
According to Ian Rapoport, the Steelers are reportedly targeting a return date around Week 8.
Because Watt tore the muscle and not the tendon, it looks like the Steelers will avoid surgery for one of the league’s eminent pass rushers.
“Obviously, you don’t want to play without a guy like that, but guys gotta step up,” Cameron Heyward said, per ESPN. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re not going out there saying that we have to change up our entire scheme and stuff, but we just gotta make sure we do our jobs.”
The Steelers were not up to the task in Week 2 against the Patriots. The Steelers didn’t record a sack against New England, and the Patriots simply ground the Steelers defense into dust. Pittsburgh will need to get better in the coming weeks if it’s going to turn things around before Watt returns.
T.J. Watt injury history
Despite never missing significant time, Watt was dinged up during his outstanding 2021 campaign.
He missed one game in his rookie year in 2017 with a pulled groin. In 2021, he missed two games with lower body injuries, one another pulled groin and the other a hip and knee injury.
Steelers schedule 2022
While Watt is gone, the Steelers have some tough games (against good quarterbacks) on their schedule.
|3||Sep. 22||Cleveland Browns (1-1)|
|4||Oct. 2||New York Jets (1-1)|
|5||Oct. 9||Buffalo Bills (2-0)|
|6||Oct. 16||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)|
|7||Oct. 23||Miami Dolphins (2-0)|
|8||Oct. 30||Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)|
The Steelers are seemingly targeting a return date of Oct. 30 for an intrastate matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles and Jalen Hurts. Until then, however, they’ll be saddled with defending against Josh Allen and Tom Brady.