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: Up
T.J. Watt suffered tightness in his hamstring on reporting day for training camp after he completed his conditioning test in late July. Since then, up until yesterday evening, he was on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List. But he was activated last night and participated on a limited basis in practice.
Understandably, the Steelers will likely continue to be cautious with the third-year player as he works his way slowly back up to full practice capacity. There’s no sense in risking a setback, with last night seeing him work in individual drills, but it shouldn’t be long before he is able to return as a full participant.
In his absence, Pittsburgh was able to provide more high-quality opportunities for the likes of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper, and J.T. Jones, a trio of young outside linebackers looking to make a push for the roster. Adeniyi is the only one of the group on the inside, the others outside of the bubble currently.
But it’s not as though Watt doesn’t need the reps. He is only entering his third season, and he made it very clear how valuable his playing time has been to his development, learning, understanding, and growing through doing, so it is important that they get him back on the field.
They did so with plenty of time, though, as they haven’t even gotten into a preseason game yet, though that will come later this week. I don’t know if they will allow him to play in that game so soon after his hamstring issue or if they will be cautious and hold him out, but I wouldn’t be surprised with either decision, to be frank.
I believe some people are taking Watt as a given too much. He is still very much a young, growing, evolving product of his work, and he needs to get that work in not just to grow, but to maintain his previous level of play. He’s not someone like late-stage James Harrison who can don the sweatpants until kickoff. So getting back out there is definitely stock up for me.