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Steelers Get OLB Major T.J. Watt Injury Update, Avoids Surgery

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Steelers OLB T.J. Watt
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HerbNi00.htm

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt got good news after getting an MRI on Sunday, and will not need surgery on his injured left knee.

Watt suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain on his left knee in the third quarter of the Steelers’ 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, according to a report by his brother, J.J. Watt of CBS Sports. The injury had originally been reported as a potential Grade 3 sprain, which could have required surgery and would have certainly ruled him out of the rest of the 2023 season.

J.J. Watt said that T.J. Watt will not require surgery, but will only need a few weeks of rest and recovery.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, they might not have a few weeks. The Steelers need help on Sunday to extend their season and play in the 2023 NFL playoffs. If they get that help, they will face elimination in the Wild Card Round next weekend, and will likely do so without Watt’s services.

“That’s a tall ask,” defensive captain Cam Heyward said Saturday when asked if the team can replace Watt. “It’s not going to be one guy. We’ll have to mix some things up, but as a pass rush crew and a D-line and an outside linebacker crew, we must step up. That goes to guys like Alex Highsmith, who I thought played well today. Nick Herbig, Markus Golden, these are the guys we relied on for depth all season, and they’ve done a good job. No one is going to go out there and say, ‘Hey. I’m T.J. Watt,’ but collectively, we’ve got to pick it up.” 

Golden and Herbig have served as the team’s outside linebacker depth all season, and while neither has anything near Watt’s NFL-leading 19 sacks, both have done more than their predecessors in that position.

Golden, a long-time NFL vet in his first season with the Steelers, has four sacks, six tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in 16 games, including a sack of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley on Saturday.

Herbig, a fourth-round rookie out of Watt’s alma mater Wisconsin, has three sacks, five tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, including a crucial strip sack and recovery against Geno Smith late in the Steelers Week 17 win over the Seattle Seahawks.