2022 South Side Questions: Will T.J. Watt Be Able To Return After 4 Games On IR?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Will T.J. Watt be able to return after four weeks on the Reserve/Injured List?

While head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he was not going to rush into any decisions about placing T.J. Watt on the Reserve/Injured List, by the time Thursday rolled around, the decision was made, as they signed outside linebacker David Anenih off of the Titans’ practice squad in a corresponding move that sent the reigning Defensive Player of the Year to IR.

While nobody ought to be in the least bit surprised by the decision, the question remains exactly when Watt will be back. What we know is that, on IR, he is required by rule to remain there for at least four games. But will he be back after four games? Five games? Eight games?

We don’t know, of course. It all depends upon how he heals. There is some reason for optimism that his healing process could be on the shorter side of expectations, which could potentially have him ready to go at or around four weeks. But that’s yet to be seen.

The Steelers still have seven more games before their by week, so unless his recovery time goes over the predicted expectations, that off week isn’t likely to be a factor in the Steelers’ decision-making. But it could if we do get to that point.

Say Watt is practicing for the Eagles game on October 30, and he’s just started practicing, maybe even looks a bit rusty, yet could still play. Would it be surprising for Tomlin to yank him and just decide to spot him that game knowing that it gives him an extra week after that as well with the bye?

Needless to say, the hope is that he is able to return to the field long before the bye. The earliest he would be eligible to return is for the Week 6 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 16 at home. Here’s to hoping he makes it back.

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