T.J. Watt has clearly not been the same since his return from IR, but here’s why the latest injury is to blame for the lack of production from the Steelers star.
It’s very easy to tell when T.J. Watt is healthy and when he’s not. We have seen his dominance in action since entering the league in 2017 and he had three straight First-Team All-Pro seasons prior to landing on IR early this year. Sadly, Watt is clearly still banged up.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin admitted this in his Tuesday press conference. While he didn’t speak much on injuries, Tomlin did say that Watt is ‘pretty beat up’ right now.
Watt returned from IR following Pittsburgh’s bye week after suffering a partially torn pectoral. It was initially feared that this injury would end his 2022 season before it ever got off the ground. In addition to rehabbing from the pec injury, Watt also had arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee.
We thought we were in the clear. Unfortunately, it’s been a rib injury that recently popped up, and it is very easy to tell that Watt isn’t back to full strength yet. The normally electrifying defensive playmaker was very much held in check against the Atlanta Falcons.
We are so used to seeing Watt fight off blocks and run offensive tackles over, but we didn’t see hardly any of that against the Falcons. As a result, Watt earned an overall grade of just 52.5 for his showing in Week 13, via Pro Football Focus — one of the lowest of his NFL career.
Steelers need to take it easy with T.J. Watt
We all want T.J. Watt to be out there every play, but the Pittsburgh Steelers need to limit his snaps at this point. While Mike Tomlin is desperately trying to claw back into the playoff hunt, there’s no sense in running their best player into the ground.
After finally recovering from the injuries that have hampered him since early in the 2021 season, the rib injury is just the latest in a laundry list of health problems for the Steelers star. Obviously, there’s a tremendous drop-off in performance from Watt to backup Malik Reed. But forcing Watt to play too many snaps won’t allow him time to heal and fully recover from these nagging injuries.
As of now, his status for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens is still unknown at this time. The Pittsburgh Steelers really can’t afford another loss if they want a shot at the playoffs this year, but they also can’t risk the health of their best player. They need to let him recover from this injury before expecting him to go full speed on the field.