The Pittsburgh Steelers might not be without T.J. Watt for as long as they initially feared. Here’s when the star could make his return to the field.
It was hard not to be pessimistic about the chances this team was going to have when we saw T.J. Watt go down with an injury. Late in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Watt jogged to the sideline with his left arm drooping at his side. Soon after, it was confirmed that the Pittsburgh Steelers star had suffered a pectoral injury.
This was incredibly discouraging, as so much of the team’s success hinges on Watt. More often than not, a torn pec will cost a player their season. Cameron Heyward went through something similar earlier in his career. However, there was optimism around the Steelers locker room yesterday that things weren’t as bad as they appeared.
After seeking a second and third opinion, we now have a diagnosis for T.J. Watt and a potential timetable for his return. Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reports that Watt has a partially torn pectoral and could return as soon as five weeks.
When can the Steelers expect T.J. Watt back?
This is terrific news, considering the initial prognosis. After it was feared that T.J. Watt would miss the entire 2022 season with a pec injury that required surgery, it looks like Watt is going to rehab and could return before the Week 9 bye.
If all goes as fast as Wilson predicts it could, Watt could be available for the Steelers as early as Week 6 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For what it’s worth, this seems like an incredibly optimistic timetable for his return, considering the injury. However, the Watt family is simply built differently. His brother J.J. suffered a complete pectoral tear in 2019 — an injury that typically sidelines a player for the year — but he was able to make a return to the field in two months.
Knowing his demeanor and love for the game, I would expect T.J. to be out there with his team as soon as possible, and I wouldn’t rule out a return as early as Week 6. Personally, however, I think I would err on the side of caution. The last thing the Pittsburgh Steelers want is a setback that forces him out of commission for the rest of the season.
If Pittsburgh can hold down the fort for the next five games or so without Watt, they may have some flexibility to play it safe when it comes to his return. The team does have winnable games coming up against the Patriots, Browns, and Jets. Unfortunately, they have a rough four-game stretch before the Week 9 bye that includes games against the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Eagles.
How the Steelers fare in these contests could determine how much flexibility they have when it comes to a T.J. Watt return. Let’s hope the recovery process goes very smoothly and that we could see the reigning Defensive Player of the Year on the field in plenty of time for Pittsburgh to make a playoff push.