While the long-term prognosis of T.J. Watt’s pectoral injury remains unclear, the immediate availability of the Steelers’ star pass rusher was learned on Tuesday.
Head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Watt won’t play against the Patriots in Week 2. However, the Steelers coach continued to support the positive outlook for Watt’s return as the team continues to gather information and weighs a decision on placing the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year on injured reserve.
“Let me say this, we’re probably in a lot better place than we were after the game and usually that’s the case,” Tomlin said. “That’s why I don’t always say too much after the game even though there might be speculation out there.
“I can definitively say that T.J. won’t play this week, but I won’t make any commitments beyond that.”
NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Monday that Watt’s injury is not believed to require surgery, which clears a path toward Watt rehabilitating himself toward a potential return this season. Rapoport and Pelissero added that Watt is expected to return in six weeks.
Watt all but confirmed an impending return this season on Twitter.
Tomlin added Tuesday that the team is “encouraged” about Watt’s injury, which suggests the team isn’t considering the worst-case scenario of losing the All-Pro pass rusher for the season.
As for the possibility of placing Watt on injured reserve, which would automatically sideline him for four weeks, Tomlin said the team still has time to make that decision as it relates to their game this week.
“We’re not in hurry to gather information too quickly,” he said. “We will see how his body responds, we’ll get a second and third opinions and then at the end of the week or at some point we will do what’s appropriate.”
Tomlin said it will be a “cast of characters” aiming to fill Watt’s absence in the meantime. Following a successful workout on Tuesday, the Steelers are signing former Commanders linebacker Ryan Anderson to the practice squad, per Pelissero.
Two days removed from Sunday’s worrisome late-game injury in Week 1, Watt’s hope for a potential return sooner than later this season remains intact.
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