Steelers DC Teryl Austin Glad To Have ‘Game-Wrecker’ T.J. Watt Back After Bye Week

The Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt wasn’t able to return to the field for the teams Week 8 Sunday road game against the Philadelphia Eagles despite having his 21-day practice window opened just ahead of the weekend. That said, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin did indicate during his bye week media session that the defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year was close to being able to play in that contest.

“He was pretty close,” Austin said on Wednesday of Watt. “He was champing at the bit to play, I know that. And obviously it just wasn’t ready. So, Mike [Tomlin] decided to wait and we’ll get him back after the bye and we’ll go from there.”

That’s certainly great news overall out Austin’s mouth and now it seems all but certain that Watt will make his return to the field a week from Sunday when the Steelers host the New Orleans Saints at Acrisure Stadium.

As you would probably expect, the Steelers defense has suffered tremendously since Week 1 without Watt on the field. The graphic below from CBS Sports indicates the obvious. On Wednesday, Austin was asked about how big of loss Watt was to the defense and how it essentially was too much to overcome because of the shoes that were left to fill were too big.

“T.J.’s, T.J., and he’s a guy that would be, I put it similar to a great receiver, if you don’t take care of him and let him wreck the game, he will,” Austin said. “And he’s kind of that guy for us. If they don’t take care of him on offense, he’ll wreck the game. And so, obviously, they can direct their energy somewhere else when he’s not in the game. We obviously didn’t do a good enough job when he was out of creating some turnovers and creating some rush and doing that stuff and so obviously that falls on me because we didn’t get it done.”

Assuming things go as planned, Watt will hopefully be able to pick up where he left off in Week 1. He should indeed be fresh and champing at the bit to play again. While he wasn’t able to return in time to play against the Eagles this past Sunday, at least that afforded him two more weeks of recuperation time. He will for sure be a welcome sight when the Steelers host the saints on November 12.

“But we’re glad to have him back and we’re gonna go from here,” Austin said on Wednesday of Watt.

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