The Pittsburgh Steelers’ worst fears may not be realized. It was a bittersweet start to the year for the franchise as it was able to fend off the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 with an overtime win. But it came at a price, if, including star pass rusher TJ Watt. He went down with a chest injury in the second half, and it was reported that Watt had allegedly suffered a torn chest.
A day away from the game, however, there is a more optimistic tone surrounding the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reports there is optimism Monday in Pittsburgh that Watt has not had a full chest tear and will be able to return after sitting for a month or so. on Monday evening, NFL Media reported that the belief is that Watt will not need surgery and that he may be able to return before the end of October, depending on how quickly the injury heals.
Of course, further testing will determine the extent of the injury and a clearer timetable in full, but this is much more encouraging news than how ominous things seemed to be immediately coming out of Sunday.
Before leaving due to the injury, Watt was his typical dominant self, taking six tackles (three for a loss), a sack and an interception, while the Pittsburgh defense did a good job against Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback was fired a total of seven times and was forced to four interceptions and one fumble. Watt is coming from a 2021 season in which he equaled the pocket record for one season with 22.5.
“Having TJ there definitely benefits us,” Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward said of Watt’s impact after Sunday’s win. “He’s a leader. He’s the defensive player of the year. No matter how long it takes, other guys have to step up. Alex [Highsmith] made good progress today. Malik and Jamir [Jones] come by. We had to do some other things there. We’ll gather around him and when he comes back, we’ll be ready.”
Over the next month, the Steelers will host the Patriots in Week 2, visit the Browns in Week 3, play the Jets at Acrisure Stadium in Week 4, and the Bills in Buffalo in Week 5. for just a month, that could be the window of games he’s missing with a week 6 return against the Buccaneers on October 16 as a possible return date.
Again, a clearer timetable for his possible return and a real measure of the severity of the injury should be unearthed in the coming days.
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