Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you do. Something is going to happen to you anyway regardless of how many preventative measures that you take. Just ask T.J. Watt, who essentially just missed his second training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a hamstring injury.
Though he spent the summer diligently training with his brothers and taking care of his body, he told the team’s website in an article posted yesterday that there were no real warning signs “to show it was getting tight”. Still, he said that he hopes to be back soon.
The silver lining? It happened now.
“It’s better it happened at this time of year than later”, Watt said, stating the obvious yet nonetheless making an important point. The Steelers can ill afford to be without him for any sort of extended period this year, which is a significant thing to say about a second-year player.
The 2017 first-round pick became a day-one starter last year and played in 15 games, though he did miss one due to a minor injury. He was generally productive, and in fact led all rookies in sacks that year with seven.
He and the Steelers both expect him to take a big step forward this season, but the time lost in training camp during the critical installation period will certainly not make it any easier for him to get off to a fast start. One of the reasons that he was able to win a starting job a year ago is because he was always working. This year, he’s been doing a lot of observing.
And praise his polish for a young player all you want, but you’re not going to convince me that he doesn’t still need a good amount of practice reps, especially considering the fact that he is going to be playing on the left side this year, rather than the right.
He did express confidence that he “won’t have a problem playing the left side” when he returns from his injury, for whatever that might be worth to you.
But while he is missing valuable installation work and getting reps coming off the left side in full pads, which he didn’t really get to do leading up to his injury, at least he’s not actually missing games. Even if he starts the season a little bit behind the curve, he would still represent arguably their best option at the outside linebacker position.
We have seen videos of Watt sprinting and doing drills. He looks like he’s close to getting back out on the field. if he had to play today in a meaningful game, would he be out there? Perhaps. It’s hard to say without having more information. But at least the injury happened at a time of year in which it’s not costing the team anything tangible.