The Pittsburgh Steelers activated outside linebacker T.J. Watt from the injured reserve list on Saturday, the final hurdle to him returning to action this Sunday in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints.
Watt said on Friday that he intended to play this week, and does not expect to have a snap count or be limited in any other way in his return from injury.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Watt said. “I feel very good about the week that I had. I’m excited to be playing, excited to be back at Acrisure Stadium.”
Watt has been out since leaving the Steelers season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals with a torn pectoral muscle. While he was rehabbing that injury, Watt also had an arthroscopic knee procedure.
The Steelers placed Watt on the injured reserve list on Sept. 15. He opened his 21-day practice window on Oct. 26. The Steelers’ last day to elevate him to the active roster would have been Nov. 15.
But Watt is ready to go just nine weeks after the initial injury.
The Steelers have used a combination of rookie DeMarvin Leal, veteran backup Malik Reed and defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk to attempt to replace Watt’s production in his absence. That group has just one sack combined on the season.
Watt will start opposite Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker, who has 6.5 sacks on the season, but three of those came in the one game he shared the field with Watt, against Cincinnati. Since then, as the Steelers primary pass-rushing threat, Highsmith has 3.5 in seven games.
The Steelers are also getting safety Damontae Kazee back from the injured reserve list this week. Cornerback William Jackson III and kicker Chris Boswell were placed on the injured reserve and will miss at least the next four games.
The Steelers and Saints are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.