Given the circumstances, the Tuesday news from Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the status of injured outside linebacker T.J. Watt was very positive. Basically, it sounds like Watt, who suffered a pectoral injury of some degree in Sunday’s Week 1 road win, will be back at some point during the season and hopefully sooner rather than later. Outside of Watt now officially being ruled out for the Steelers’ Week 2 home game against the New England Patriots, Tomlin wouldn’t speculate past that timeframe. However, with the news being positive concerning Watt, Tomlin was asked on Tuesday if there might now be a need to protect Watt from himself.
“That’s an honor to do it,” Tomlin said. “I’d rather say ‘whoa’ than ‘sic’em.’ What are we talking about? We’re talking about protecting a highly competitive, talented guy. That’s the job, so I’m not gonna act like that’s a problem.”
It sure beats the alternative, right? Sure, it might be hard to get Watt to not push too hard, but him doing that makes him the kind of player that he is, which is the defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year. When it comes down to it, I’m betting that Watt will be smart about his rehab.
The Steelers bye this season is Week 9 so might he be back prior to then? It’s really too hard to tell this early on in the process and Tomlin certainly didn’t lock himself or Watt into any sort of timeframe on Tuesday.
“I can definitively say that T.J. won’t play this week, but I won’t make any commitments beyond that,” Tomlin said. “We’re encouraged and we’ll just continue to look at the situation and gain opinions and do what’s appropriate.”
Tomlin wasn’t even ready to definitely say that Watt won’t ultimately need surgery on Tuesday when he talked about the future status of the Steelers outside linebacker
“I can’t definitively say anything when we’re pursuing second and third opinions,” Tomlin said.
One reasonable expectation is that Watt might land on the team’s Reserve/Injured list soon. Him being placed on that list would require at least the next four games being missed, however.
“We’ve got time to make decisions such as that,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “You know, IR decisions that have to be made by the end of the week relative to this game being a counter and so we’ve got time there. We’re not in a hurry to gather information too quickly. We’ll see how his body responds. We’ll get second and third opinions and at the end of the week, or, or at some point, we’ll do what’s appropriate.”
The Steelers absolutely don’t need to move Watt to the Reserve/Injured list this early in the week and they would be wise not to until the other opinions are gathered these next 48 hours or so. Realistically, Watt might be placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Saturday so that perhaps outside linebacker Delontae Scott can be signed from the practice squad or another free agent to be signed from the outside. In short, Saturday might the key day to watch.
Watt, by the way, basically confirmed on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that he’ll be back at some point this season.