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
Almost all of the news this week has been on the injury front, and almost all of it has been good. We got a heaping helping of good news in that department yesterday, with multiple notable players either returning to full participation or remaining at full participation after making their return. The only negative was Mark Barron going from full participation to limited participation.
The most significant note, though, has to be T.J. Watt, who is a cornerstone player of the Steelers’ defense. The third-year outside linebacker suffered an abdominal injury late in the team’s most recent game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has been slowly working his way back, participating on a limited basis in practice on Thursday, but able to go full on Friday.
Both he himself and defensive coordinator Keith Butler expressed some degree of optimism that he would be able to play for the Steelers defense against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. Having the extra day to prepare for the game will certainly not hurt his chances of playing, either.
Especially in light of the fact that they no longer have Anthony Chickillo available to him following his arrest over the weekend and subsequent placement on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, depth at the outside linebacker position is as important as ever. And you don’t want Olasunkanmi Adeniyi’s first game as the primary number three to come without a starter in the lineup.
More importantly, Watt has been having a very good season so far for the Steelers, a fact not necessarily highlighted purely in his numbers. He has four sacks, a force fumble, an interception, and two fumble recoveries, but he has been playing very well for the most part from play to play, and generating a good amount of pressure. He’s one of the players they can least afford to miss a game.