It’s been a tough 2022 for T.J. Watt. After suffering a pec injury in the Week 1 opener, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Brooke Pryor reported Watt also recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He’ll miss an additional 1-2 weeks on top of the time he was expected to miss with the pectoral injury.
It was never exactly clear when Watt would return from the pec injury, making it hard to know when he’ll return. A CBS report indicated Watt hoped to be return by Week 6. At this point, a return following the team’s bye week seems far more likely; per the report, those within the organization believe the same.
“The Steelers will not rush Watt back and will be diligent in monitoring how both his knee and pectoral muscle respond. The team, however, no longer is counting on Watt to return before their bye week, according to sources.”
While we don’t know what led to Watt needing knee surgery, it’s possible it stems from the low block he took on in the preseason against the Detroit Lions.
Though this is significantly more minor, Watt has had a history of knee injuries and surgeries dating back to college, to the point where he nearly quit playing football. After playing in all but two games over his first four seasons, he missed two full games in 2021 and two halves of others while being limited to one game in 2022.
Pittsburgh will have to play without Watt awhile longer. Since he’s been out of the Steelers’ lineup, the team’s pass rush has tanked, with just three sacks over the last two weeks. The team has leaned most heavily on OLB Malik Reed and rookie DE DeMarvin Leal to fill Watt’s snaps.
Over his career, Watt has racked up 73 sacks. He was on pace to break the Steelers’ franchise sack record by Halloween. Now, he’ll just try to do it before the season even ends. It’s a record that may have to wait until 2023.
Since 2017, the Steelers are 0-7 when Watt does not play. They enter Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills as 14-point underdogs.