The Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 training camp wasn’t a very eventful one for outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the team’s first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watt spent most of his time this year at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe rehabbing thanks to a hamstring injury that he suffered during the team’s third training camp practice.
While Watt will now miss the Steelers second preseason game Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers, a report surfaced Tuesday afternoon that gives hope that we might see him play in the team’s third preseason game at Heinz Field a week from Saturday against the Tennessee Titans and if not then, perhaps in the finale against the Carolina Panthers, which is a little more than two weeks away.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com on Tuesday, Watt said the Steelers are being cautious with him in his rehab still and that “he’ll be back soon.” Fowler also reports that Watt was jogging off to the side during Tuesday’s practice.
Even though Watt should have a very good grasp of the Steelers defense now that he’s in his second season, he still needs to get some practice in prior to the start of the regular season and especially with him switching sides this year with fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who also missed considerable practice time during this year’s training camp due to a concussion he suffered during the team’s annual Friday night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
“We’re just one-third of the way through the preseason schedule, we’ve been in one stadium, we got three more to go. So, I’m not ready to paint with a broad brush yet,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference when asked what the impact of Watt and Dupree missing a lot of training camp practices due to injuries will be when combined with the fact that both players will be switching sides this season. “Some of the guys you mentioned may be participating in this football game, so we’ll keep an eye on that and look at the totality of that as we get closer to the end of the process.”
For whatever it’s worth, Dupree returned to practice on Tuesday, which was the final 2018 session at Saint Vincent College this year. Additionally, Tomlin said Tuesday that Dupree will play some Thursday night against the Packers.
As for Watt, hamstring injuries certainly can be tricky sometimes and you worry that if such an injury isn’t allowed to properly heal that it might result in some sort reaggravation at a later date. Currently, Watt is the Steelers best outside linebacker and there’s not much in the way of either quality or experienced depth behind him.
In short, it’s probably a good thing that Watt suffered his hamstring injury early during training camp as opposed to later and hopefully he’ll be fully healed and have it behind him for good by the time the preseason ends, if not sooner.