Steelers injury report: Najee Harris on track to play vs Patriots

An NFL referee checks on Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
An NFL referee checks on Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Steelers hoped to start 2022 on a positive note against the Bengals. They won in the final seconds of overtime, but at a considerable price.

The good news before the game started was that Diontae Johnson, whom the Steelers listed as questionable, did play, snagging seven receptions for 55 yards. The bad news, despite returning, many of his teammates left the game with injuries, some serious, some not.

So while the Steelers pulled out a victory in the waning seconds of overtime, the cost of winning the game could put a huge damper on the Steelers 2022 season and could potentially give Tomlin his first losing season in 16 years.

When you watch as your best defensive player and sack king, T.J. Watt, says, standing on the sideline, I tore my pectoral, that’s an ominous sign. Then to see your starting center, Mason Cole, on an already suspect offensive line get taken out of the game, and then a huge scare seeing Najee Harris leave the game, you get that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. The same uneasy feeling Dallas Cowboy fans had losing to Tampa losing Dak Prescott potentially for eight weeks, in the NFL nightcap game Sunday.

The bright side is that the situation could have been much worse. In addition to T.J. Watt and Najee Harris,  other Steelers suffered minor injuries that nearly spelled disaster as they also saw Demarvin Leal and Cam Heyward exit the game in the waning minutes of the 4th quarter.

Here is the updated Steelers injury report from Thursday afternoon.

T.J. Watt LB: out (pectoral)

When T.J. Watt came off the field Sunday, you saw him mouth the words “I tore my pec.” Needless to say, if that had occurred, it would have been season-ending. On Tuesday, fans got better news. He had it evaluated and received a second opinion both concurred it was only a partial muscle tear and would not require surgery. Watt will still be out about six weeks, but not the entire season as initially feared. In the meantime, the Steelers are looking at all options as far as replacing T.J. in that time frame. However, for now, Malik Reed is expected to be his replacement until T.J. Watt returns.

Najee Harris RB: questionable (foot)

The injury to J.J Watt was bad enough, then seeing Najee Harris limp off the field gave many fans the impression that the Steelers season might be over before it began. The fear was he had re-aggravated the Lisfranc injury he had dealt with all preseason. Then there was a Twitter report on late Sunday or early Monday indicating that potentially he had tweaked the opposite foot and that the injury was not as serious.

On Tuesday, we received news that the evaluation did not reinjure anything. In an interview on Tuesday, Najee himself said he would not miss the home opener against the Patriots. Per the Steelers injury report on Wednesday, the Steelers held Najee to a limited practice. However, he was able to practice in full on Thursday. This is a great indication that he will probably be good to go this week.

Robert Spillane LB: questionable (eye)

In a freak accident, Robert Spillane had a collision with an offensive lineman and had to come off the field and have his trainers attend to his eye. The report as of Thursday is that he had full practice for the second straight day — indicating there seem to be no lingering effects, so he should be on track to play against the Patriots.

Levi Wallace CB: questionable (ankle)

Levi Wallace sprained his ankle and had to come out of the game Sunday. It seemed possible that he could miss the Patriots game. However, he was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after being limited on Wednesday, which seems excellent news regarding ankle injuries. The injury is probably mild at best. Do not expect him to miss Sunday’s contest.

Mason Cole C: questionable Ankle

Even though Mason Cole did return to the game on Sunday the Steelers still listed him on the injury report and held him to a limited practice just to allow his ankle to heal fully for Sunday’s game. Given that he finished in the Bengals game, his listing on the injury may not be indicative of his ability to play Sunday. Still, keep an eye on this one as Cole was only a limited participant in practice on Thursday.

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While there is bad news on the injury report, things certainly turned out much better than most feared. As we have come to expect, injuries can happen on any given play; let’s hope very few occur when the Steelers take on the Patriots. However, you can always refer to the Steelers injury page on their website for any injury updates to the Steelers or Patriots.