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: Up
Reasoning: Derek Watt sustained a hamstring injury in the first half of the Steelers’ game against the Houston Texans in week three. Even though they had a (surprise) bye week after that, he still sat out Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was a full participant in practice yesterday, indicating that he is on his way back.
The Pittsburgh Steelers admired several traits in Derek Watt when they signed him in free agency, and one of the most attractive qualities that he displayed throughout his first four seasons in the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers was his durability, never missing a game in that time.
Of course, he would go on to miss the fourth game of his Steelers career, as fate would have it, sustaining a hamstring injury in week three. The bye week proved to be fortuitous for him, as it meant one less game missed, though I’m sure if the Steelers could select a bye week to help an injured player miss less time, they would choose a player other than a fullback.
That’s not to diminish his contributions. He was signed for the role that he has executed so far, which is to serve as a standout special teams player first and foremost, and to contribute offensively as a fullback and general blocker. They have already lined him up along the line and put him in motion a few times this year.
When he missed Sunday’s game, the Steelers called up Trey Edmunds from the practice squad to execute his role, both offensively and on special teams. He didn’t get many snaps, but he did his part. Of course, they’re not about to replace Watt with him.
It will be telling whether or not he is able to be a full go at practice today, as it will indicate that there have not been any setbacks, and that he should be on track to return to action missing just one contest. Just in time for his first divisional matchup in the black and gold.