PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is continuing his rehab from a left pectoral muscle injury, but is not yet close to joining his teammates in practice.
Watt’s absence extended into its sixth week, as he watched practice at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Wednesday while the Steelers readied for the Miami Dolphins.
Watt has been eligible to be designated for return from the injured reserve list since he missed his fourth game. Once he is designated for return, he can practice with the team for three weeks before he must be elevated back to the active roster.
The fact that Watt has not yet opened that 21-day window suggests that his return is not imminent. Watt was originally reported to have six weeks of rehab before he could return from his pectoral injury, but he had his knee scoped on top of that, adding another week or two to his recovery timeline.
The recovery from that process is likely why Watt has not been seen doing individual workouts off to the side, like fellow injured reserve member Damontae Kazee, who has been running while still wearing a cast or brace on his injured left arm.
Now that Watt has been off his feet training-wise for a few weeks, it could take him some time to get ramped back up to game speed once he gets going. Even if Watt returns to practice next week, it seems unlikely that he could return for the team’s Week 8 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Steelers have a Week 9 bye, so it’s now looking like Nov. 13 against the New Orleans Saints at Acrisure Stadium in Week 10 is the earliest possible return for the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.