Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt hasn’t done much of anything outside of some individual drills so far in this year’s training camp and that’s not likely to change until at least after the team returns to practice following their Thursday preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. With watt essentially being a training camp practice spectator these last few weeks, it’s lead to speculation that he’s waiting for a contract extension to be finalized before upping his participation level. So, is that what is really going on with Watt? Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed that very question recently.
“No, I think Coach (Tomlin), with this extra week, he’s being very diligent about trying to make sure we see those new people, get those new people extra reps, Colbert said of Watt’s current status when asked if the outside linebacker is skipping 11-on-11 work until his contract extension finalized, according to Mike Prisuta of steelers.com. “We know the vets.”
3. GM Colbert on whether OLB Watt might be skipping 11-on-11 work until contract extension finalized: “No, I think Coach (Tomlin), with this extra week, he’s being very diligent about trying to make sure we see those new people, get those new people extra reps. We know the vets.”
— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 3, 2021
Well, that certainly sounds good in theory but with that said, another key defensive veteran, Cameron Heyward, has been working quite a bit in the team portion of practices since training camp got underway and the same goes for three other defensive veterans the team knows very well at this point, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, cornerback Joe Haden and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Basically, I don’t fully believe Colbert. Sure, there is no reason to push Watt at all in the early stages of training camp, but with that said, it’s hard to imagine him taking it easier than most right now isn’t somehow related to him waiting to get a contract extension finalized.
Look, I have no issue with Watt limiting himself right now and that assumes he’s indeed 100 percent healthy. The NFL is a business after all and with Watt now poised to become the highest paid defensive player in the league in the next six weeks, there’s no sense risking an accidental serious injury that could jeopardize that. Do you blame him? At least he is present with his teammates and likely attempting to help them get better at the start of training camp.
It will really be interesting to see if Watt resumes practicing next week and especially if he still hasn’t signed a new contract extension by then. Personally, I have a feeling that Watt has a good chance of being signed to a new contract before the Steelers second preseason game. We’ll see. Until he does sign that extension, however, expect him to be an extremely limited practice participant as the Steelers continue to be diligent with their star outside linebacker and probably at his own request.