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Steelers say damage to LB T.J. Watt not as unhealthy as initially feared


PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers star outdoors linebacker T.J. Watt will miss Sunday’s recreation in opposition to New England with a left pectoral damage, although coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic Watt’s prognosis is not as unhealthy as initially feared.

Tomlin mentioned Tuesday the reigning NFL Defensive Participant of the 12 months will not be accessible for Pittsburgh’s residence opener, however refused to supply a possible timetable on how lengthy Watt may be unavailable and hinted the worst-case scenario — that Watt can be misplaced for the season — is now not on the desk.

“We’re inspired and we’ll simply proceed to have a look at the scenario and acquire opinions and do what’s acceptable,” Tomlin mentioned.

Watt sustained the damage late within the fourth quarter of a 23-20 additional time victory over Cincinnati whereas trying to sack the Bengals’ Joe Burrow. Watt walked off the sphere with Steelers doctor Dr. James Bradley and went straight to the locker room. He declined interview requests on Monday however gave the impression to be upbeat.

Tomlin declined to provide specifics in regards to the damage on Sunday and remained deliberately imprecise in regards to the extent of the injury to Watt’s pectoral on Tuesday apart from to say “we’re in all probability in so much higher place than we have been after the sport. And normally that’s the case.”

The three-time All-Professional had a sack and even snagged his fifth profession interception within the opener, selecting up proper the place he left off in 2021 when he tied an NFL report with 22 1/2 sacks.

The Steelers will flip to newcomers Malik Reed and Jamir Jones to fill in. Reed arrived in a commerce with Denver on Aug. 31. The Steelers claimed Jones — who performed with them briefly in 2021 earlier than being lower — off waivers on Sept. 1.

Tomlin made it some extent to take a number of the strain off Reed and Jones, who will fill in for Watt.

“These guys should not going to be T.J. (and) it’s not practical to suppose that they’re going to be T.J.,” Tomlin mentioned. “However we count on them to be varsity.”

Reed and Jones performed a mixed 50 snaps in opposition to Cincinnati, combining for 3 tackles. Reed is extra of a identified amount, getting 15 sacks in three seasons with Denver earlier than being caught in a numbers crunch with the Broncos and being shipped to Pittsburgh.

“Man, Malik is a 700-plus snap defender the final two years,” Tomlin mentioned. “His resume speaks for itself. That’s why we went out buying him. He’s a really, very credible NFL participant.”

There’s nonetheless an opportunity Watt might be positioned on injured reserve, which might pressure him to overlook a minimal of 4 weeks. Tomlin mentioned the crew will take its time to find out whether or not to take that step, including that Watt is within the means of getting second and third opinions on the damage.

Whereas Watt is out, second-year working again Najee Harris may play after leaving late in opposition to Cincinnati with a left foot damage. Harris gave the impression to be in important ache afterward and was seen along with his left foot and decrease left leg closely wrapped.

“It’s good to be younger, ,” Tomlin mentioned. “He seems to be in place (to play), however he’s going to should observe and show his readiness.”

Pittsburgh’s prime backup is Jaylen Warren, an undrafted rookie free agent who ran 3 times for 7 yards in opposition to the Bengals and proved to be an adept and enthusiastic blocker within the passing recreation.

Requested about Warren’s efficiency, Tomlin smiled.

“He didn’t urinate down his leg and that’s an incredible place to start, ,” Tomlin mentioned with amusing.




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