Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: FB Derek Watt
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Derek Watt suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the game against the Houston Texans on Sunday, and Mike Tomlin expressed extreme skepticism about the chances of him playing in the team’s next game.
One of the most significant qualities of Derek Watt that the Steelers were attracted to when they signed him this offseason had been his great durability. In four seasons, he logged 64 games, never missing a contest. He logged 552 snaps on offense and 1170 on special teams, which is a lot for a fullback.
Just three games into his career with the Steelers after they made him the second-highest-paid player at his position, he has his first significant injury as a professional, one that figures to cost him time. The question is whether or not he will miss multiple games, which is certainly a possibility.
Leading up to his injury, Watt only logged 21 total snaps on offense in the first two-plus games, but also 49 snaps on special teams. On that pace, he was well on course to clear 300 snaps on special teams this year, which is what he was primarily signed to do.
He only played 14 total snaps on offense through the first two weeks, but the early goings of week three seemed to indicate that he was a bigger part of their plan, as they were using more heavy packages throughout the game, including more tackle-eligible. He logged seven snaps by the time he was injured in the middle of the second quarter. Was he going to end up with 15-plus snaps by the end of the game?
The Steelers chose to protect Trey Edmunds on the practice squad. After Roosevelt Nix was injured last year, they had Edmunds take some snaps at fullback. He also played over 200 snaps on special teams last year in 11 games. It would be an annual tradition to call him up from the practice squad, now three years running, though this time he would almost surely be sent back down. In this case, he would likely only be elevated for the game rather than promoted to the 53.