Steelers OLB T.J. Watt to Sit Out Pro Bowl Due to Injury
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt will not participate in the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games due to injury, the NFL announced on Friday.
Watt did not suffer a new injury, but is taking time to rest and recover after having his 2022 season disrupted by knee, pec and rib injuries, a team source confirmed to Steelers Now.. Watt missed seven games with the left pectoral injury that he suffered in Week 1 in Cincinnati. He also had minor knee surgery while he was out. A rib injury limited him after his return to action.
Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano will replace Watt in the game. Milano was one of two alternates selected for the AFC squad at outside linebacker. The other was Watt’s teammate, Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.
Highsmith led the Steelers with 14.5 sacks and had 12 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits in his 17 games. Watt had 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hits in 10 games.
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Milano, who plays in Buffalo’s 4-3 scheme, had 1.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits, but racked up 99 tackles and 11 passes defended in his more coverage-based role.
Watt was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive season. Highsmith, in his third year in the league, has not been selected.
Matt Judon of the New England Patriots and Khalil Mack of the Los Angeles Chargers are the other AFC outside linebackers.
Watt’s absence will leave the Steelers with just one player participating in Las Vegas next week: free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
In addition to Highsmith, three other Steelers players are alternates: tight end Pat Freiermuth, defensive tackle Cam Heyward and fullback Derek Watt. Any player that makes the Super Bowl is automatically withdrawn from the Pro Bowl roster.
For the first time, the NFL will not hold a traditional Pro Bowl this season. Instead, a series of competitions will be held between the AFC and NFC athletes, including a skills competition next Thursday and a flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.