Steelers star T.J. Watt is going to miss time with a pectoral injury, but newcomer and backup, Malik Reed, seems to be very confident in a starting role.
Just hours before the final 2022 cut-down deadline in which all NFL teams were required to reduce their roster from 80 to 53 players, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Broncos edge defender Malik Reed at the cost of a late-round pick swap. I’m guessing they are incredibly happy they made that trade right now.
Late in Pittsburgh’s Week 1 road contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, T.J. Watt went down with what was quickly confirmed to be a pectoral injury. We do know at this point that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is going to miss time, but the severity of the injury isn’t known at this time.
Watt is the last player we would like to see go down with a serious injury, as so much relies on the splash plays he routinely makes and the pressure he always provides. However, Omar Khan’s decision to trade for Malik Reed is looking very good right now.
Recently, Chris Adamski of TribLIVE caught up with Reed on Monday following the Steelers win and asked him about his potential increased role. Reed claims he is ‘definitely ready’ to be the next man up while T.J. Watt recovers.
In his first game as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reed carved out a sizable role as a rotational defender — earning 32 defensive snaps despite just recently joining the team. His usage is going to skyrocket over the coming weeks, and he should prove to be a serviceable option.
What should Steelers fans expect from Malik Reed?
Anytime you go from a player like T.J. Watt to his backup, there is going to be a sizable dropoff — one that could have lasting implications on the defense. However, fans should be feeling much more comfortable about Malik Reed than the depth they previously had.
While he may not be the biggest or fastest edge defender in the league, Reed is incredibly scrappy and plays with a fantastic motor that doesn’t quit. Since entering the league in 2019, Reed has primarily been a starter for the Broncos — carving out 34 starts in 36 games played, via Pro Football Reference.
Though he’s not a household name, Reed didn’t go completely noticed during his tenure in Denver. Over the past two seasons, he has combined for 13.0 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss, and 25 QB hits. Now the undersized edge defender is entering a role that should suit his skill set. He’s no stranger to production, and he should be able to help the Steelers get pressure on the quarterback.
With Watt’s injury, however, I do expect the Steelers to be in the market for another edge defender. Pittsburgh could bring up a player like Delontae Scott from the practice squad, sign a free agent, or trade for improved depth at the position. It also stands to reason that Jamir Jones will see an increased role in Watt’s absence as well.
Whatever they decide to do, Malik Reed certainly isn’t lacking confidence and he is a player who has been pretty successful on some quality defenses. Let’s hope he can hold down the fort in Watt’s absence — however long that may be.