It was just in recent days that we learned from head coach Mike Tomlin that Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Derek Watt had a surgical procedure of some nature at some point during the offseason. He wouldn’t go into specifics, and you know that if he is not going into specifics, he has carefully told his players not to go into specifics, either.
So it’s no shock that when the fullback was interviewed by reporters over the weekend, he declined to give and further elaboration concerning the nature of the operation that he had. In fact, by and large, it kind of seemed as though nobody really even realized that he hadn’t been participating.
“I’m not going to get into specifics. I did have an offseason procedure”, he said. “I’ve been working back, kind of just getting re-acclimated, getting back into team setting. The surgery’s in the past, and I’m ready to go. And the plan is Week One and I have every intention of being ready for Week One and getting involved in the back half of camp here”.
Back in March, the Steelers signed the middle Watt brother to a three-year contract that was worth $9.75 million, which made him the second-highest-paid fullback in the NFL. While it’s unlikely that he would see any more than 150-200 snaps offensively, he would also be expected to log over 300 snaps on special teams.
Presumably, whatever surgery that Watt had is something that was discussed and was planned accordingly to give him an opportunity to be ready for the start of the season. As long as he gets on the field by then, it doesn’t really matter if we know further details.
While we would of course like to see him on the field as a full participant and possibly blowing up some holes during scrimmages, he is an experienced player and his job description is pretty simple. I don’t think that he will have forgotten how to smack into people.
The extent and nature of Watt’s employment with the Chargers was not dissimilar to how the Steelers used Roosevelt Nix for the past several years, so I would not expect much in the way of change when it comes to the team’s use of the fullback. They’re not going to suddenly turn him into Kyle Juszczyk.
But the fullback still has a role, and when it’s called for, you just that he’ll be there. Nix has had some difficulties staying healthy. While Watt of course had this surgery, he has had a clean health record up to this point in his career, playing in all 64 of the games in which he could have played since entering the league.
And he has a whopping 29 touches in case you’re wondering, his 10 last season being a career-high.