T.J. Watt injury update: Steelers All-Pro pass rusher doesn’t rule out playing Week 8 vs. Eagles


T.J. Watt returned to practice this week for the first time since sustaining his pec injury during the Steelers’ Week 1 win over the Bengals. The Steelers now have 19 days to activate Watt, who remains on the reserve/injured list. 

Speaking to the media Friday, Watt did not rule out possibly playing in Sunday’s road game in Philadelphia. 

“I feel good,” Watt said, via the Tribune-Review. “Today was a good day. This week has been a good week for me. I just want to continue going in the right direction.”

Watt was asked if Sunday’s game may be used as a trial to physically see where he’s at heading into Pittsburgh’s upcoming bye week. 

“It doesn’t matter,” Watt said regarding his possible role should be play Sunday. “I’m always going to do what’s best for the team and what’s asked of me.”

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Watt’s improved health is certainly good news for the Steelers, who have struggled to sack the quarterback in the weeks following Watt’s injury. Pittsburgh has just 12 sacks through seven games, a far cry from the previous five seasons, when the Steelers held at least a share of the NFL’s sack title each year. More than half of Pittsburgh’s sack total this season has been tallied by fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who led the NFL in sacks entering Week 7. 

The NFL’s sack leader the previous two seasons, Watt appeared to be on his way to winning a second straight Defensive Player of the Year award in Week 1. Against the defending AFC champions, Watt had a sack, an interception, six tackles and three tackles for loss while helping the Steelers pull off an upset win. Watt sustained his injury during the final seconds of regulation. 

The Steelers are currently 2-5 following last week’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday, the Steelers will try to knock off the undefeated Eagles while recording the franchise’s first win in the City of Brotherly Love since 1965.

Featured Game | Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh’s defense allowed just 16 points against the Dolphins on “Sunday Night Football”. But four missed interception opportunities by the Steelers’ secondary — coupled with the Dolphins’ three interception of Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett — were the difference in Miami’s six-point win.

 The Steelers defense will try to make more splash plays against the Eagles, with or without its All-Pro pass rusher. 

“There are so many different ways,” veteran defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said when asked how his unit can create splash, via the team’s official website. “Catch the balls we’re supposed to catch. Get the sacks we’re supposed to get. When you do get the sack, strip the ball. Then the running backs, you have to lay the wood and punch the ball out.

“Those are different ways we can get turnovers. I know we are playing an opponent that has only turned the ball over twice in six games, so we have our work cut out for us. But we have to make sure we take advantage of those opportunities.”

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