CINCINNATI — Steelers fullback Derek Watt suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the team’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game.
Tomlin did not offer any further insight into Watt’s prognosis, but considering the way things looked in the immediate aftermath of the collision between Watt and Cincinnati punt returner Alex Erickson.
Watt was coming straight down the middle of the field toward Erickson as a member of the Pittsburgh punt cover team when a little shove from a Cincinnati blocker sent him stumbling toward Erickson, head first. Watt’s head connected solidly with Erickson’s left knee, a violent collision that snapped Watt’s neck backward and left him lying motionless, flat on the back, on the field at Paul Brown Stadium.
#InjuryReport 🚨- Here is another angle of the Derek Watt injury. You can actually see the fencing response immediately after the hit, which is a relatively common flexed forearm/arm extension response to a concussion. Hoping the best for Derek! pic.twitter.com/zbThX15yDl
— The Injury Guy (@thatinjuryguy) December 22, 2020
Linebacker Ola Adeniyi, safety Jordan Dangerfield and running back Benny Snell tried to avoid any further injury as the pile was perilously close to the prostrate Watt, while linebacker Jayrone Elliott frantically called for the trainers.
But the first player off the Pittsburgh sideline was in uniform: Watt’s brother and Steelers starting linebacker T.J. Watt. T.J. Watt raced onto the field to tend to his brother and knelt alongside him as the Steelers trainers made sure Derek Watt was OK.
“Yeah, it’s a scary moment,” T.J. Watt said after the game. “I see my blood brother go down on the football field and I’m just glad that he’s okay, but there’s a lot of emotions going through my head at that point in time. A lot of adrenaline.”
Derek Watt was able to make his way off the field with some assistance and after a spell in the medical tent on the Pittsburgh sideline, he walked to the Steelers locker room under his own power.
Watching his brother’s scary ordeal didn’t have any impact on the rest of the game for T.J. Watt, who finished with a sack, four tackles, three tackles for a loss and a quarterback hit.
“I just wanted to make sure my brother was alright,” T.J. Watt said. “And then try play as best football as I possibly can.”
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”