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Steelers Injury Updates

T.J. Watt Doesn’t Need Surgery, Could Return in October

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Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is not expected to require surgery on his torn left pectoral muscle and could return to action sometime next month, according to a report by Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Watt suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ 23-20 overtime win over the the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He mouthed coming off the field that he thought he had torn his pec, and subsequent reporting echoed the fear that he could miss most of the regular season.

If the injury required surgery, Watt would have missed almost the entire 2022 season. If Watt could rehab the injury instead, his prognosis is instead a four-to-eight week return. Pelissero said that Watt could return before the end of October. The Steelers have their off week on the first Sunday in November, meaning Nov. 13 against the New Orleans Saints could be a target return date, if not earlier.

Watt is expected to get second and third opinions on Thursday, but is not expected to get news that would interrupt the plan to rehab the injury and attempt to return midseason. His brother, J.J. Watt, once returned in eight weeks from a torn pec.

Malik Reed is expected to replace Watt in the starting lineup this Sunday against the New England Patriots and until Watt returns. Jamir Jones will also provide depth. Reed has started 34 games over the last three seasons for the Denver Broncos. Jones started one game for the Steelers last season before being lost on waivers. The Steelers will be able to place Watt on the short-term injured reserve list and replace him on the active roster with another player while he is out.

Alex Highsmith, who plays opposite Watt, had a strong game on Sunday, recording three sacks after posting just six in all of 2021. He should be expected to face more attention from opposing blockers with Watt on the shelf.

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