PITTSBURGH — Outside linebacker T.J. Watt and wide receiver Diontae Johnson did not participate in the team’s practice session on Thursday, putting their status for Sunday’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens in jeopardy.
Johnson was added to the team’s injury report on Wednesday with hip injury. He was listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice session but did not participate at all on Thursday.
Miles Boykin is the team’s most-experienced backup at playing outside receiver and the most likely candidate to step in for him if Johnson is unable to play on Sunday. Boykin has one catch for 11 yards this season. Slot receivers Steven Sims and Gunner Olszewski and backup tight ends Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward would also likely see increased roles.
Watt has been dealing with the rib injury for two weeks now. He played in the Steelers’ Week 13 win over the Atlanta Falcons, despite being limited in practice the week before and dealing with a good amount of pain.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday to not assume that just because players play one week, that means their injury has gone away. He also said he anticipated that players in that category would play again this week against the Ravens.
“Guys that were carrying bumps and bruises into play who were somehow limited during the course of last week’s work, but then were able to play, you just don’t want to assume that that’s behind them,” Tomlin said. “I’m prepared for them maybe to be affected somewhere in the early portions of the week, but not as we lean in on game time.”
Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is in that group, as well. He played through a toe injury on Sunday and has missed both practice sessions so far this week.
Malik Reed would once again be in line to replace Watt if he cannot play. Chris Wormley is the next man up at defensive tackle. Johnson, Watt and Ogunjobi will have one final practice session on Friday in order to get back onto the practice field ahead of Sunday’s date with the Ravens.
Three other players saw their practice participations levels increase on Thursday. Running back Najee Harris (oblique) and tackle Chuks Okorafor (shoulder) went from missing practice on Wednesday to being limited participants on Thursday. Reed (back) was a full participant after missing Wednesday’s session.
Kicker Chris Boswell (groin) returned to practice, but remains on the injured reserve list.
Defensive tackle Cam Heyward was given the day off.