By Jeremy Hritz
It was a bittersweet victory yesterday, as the Steelers’ defense savaged the Bengals offense to the tune of 7 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. The entire unit was aggressive, locked in, and dominant, holding one of the NFL’s elite offenses in check for 4 quarters plus, even into the overtime period. Unfortunately, the celebration was dulled by the apparent pectoral injury to All-Pro, Defensive Player of the Year, TJ Watt. As Monday winds on without anything official from the team, here is what is known so far about Watt’s injury and its implications for the team.
Earlier today (Monday, 9/12), NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the team is still waiting for a definitive conclusion on Watt’s injury, and that they are seeking additional medical opinions before deciding how to proceed. Rapoport indicates that official word more than likely will not come until Tuesday, and that the team and Watt will determine whether or not surgery or rehab will be the course of action to correct the injury. Obviously, if it is rehab over surgery, the injury is not as serious as initially believed, while if it does require surgery, he could possibly be out for the remainder of the season.
Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Twitter that Watt is in fact in the Steelers locker room today and appears to be in a “chipper mood.” Mark Kaboly also reported something similar, saying that Watt was in “good spirits.” Additionally, NFL Insider for CBS Sports, Jonathan Jones tweeted, “There’s some optimism today in Pittsburgh that OLB and Reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt did not experience a full pec tear and will be able to return after sitting for a month or so, per league source. Still awaiting word from the team.”
What do we make of all of it? Nobody knows, but there does seem to be some hope to cling to regarding Watt’s injury.
If Watt is out for the season, the Steelers defense will not be the same, and while it will still be competitive, losing the reigning DPOY will prove too much to overcome; however, if he is able to return after a short period of time following intense rehab, the depth at OLB and the remaining defensive starters can carry the boats in the interim.
There may not be a player who means more to his team than Watt, and all of Steelers Nation is hoping for the absolute best outcome. As news unfolds regarding Watt’s injury, I will provide updates.