Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: OLB T.J. Watt
Stock Value: Down
First of all, I want to start off by noting that as we enter training camp, the stock watch column is probably going to wind down unless it proves to be valuable and generates discussion. We did cut it back about a week into training camp last year, but if it’s desired, then perhaps we could keep it going.
I’m also probably going to have to remind, even though it’s in the boilerplate text above, that a stock evaluation can be an immediate reaction to something minor and temporary, and that is what this first evaluation from training camp is going to be, in light of third-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt being placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List after experiencing hamstring tightness during his conditioning test.
It’s worth noting that he also had a hamstring issue during training camp last year that caused him to miss time, but Head Coach Mike Tomlin said, prior to him being placed on the PUP List, that if they were going to take that action, they would expect it to be minor and rather short-term.
In other words, he could be back any day now. But until he’s back, the reality is that he is missing time, and in a year in which the Steelers expect him to take a critical and big step forward in his development. Even as a Pro Bowler last season with 13 sacks and six forced fumbles, he understands that he needs to make a larger impact on the game from play to play to be the force the team needs him to be.
Missing a few days or even weeks in training camp isn’t necessarily going to make or break that from being a possibility, but as goes without saying, it’s always better to be healthy enough to be out on the field, even if you’re being held out due to an abundance of caution.
Generally, Watt has shown great durability and conditioning throughout his short career, missing just one game in two years. His level of conditioning is largely what helped him win a starting job as a rookie in 2017.