Monday was a good day as far as Steelers injury updates were concerned. Shortly after it was reported that star linebacker T.J. Watt may not have suffered a fully torn pec muscle, news broke that Pro Bowl running back Najee Harris should be good to go for Sunday’s game against the Patriots after tests on his knee came back negative, according to ESPN.
Both players sustained their injuries during the second half of Sunday’s overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Harris had 12 touches on Sunday that included Pittsburgh’s first offensive touchdown of the season on a one-yard pass from quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The reigning defensive player of the year, Watt tallied six tackles (three for loss), a sack and an interception prior to leaving the game.
A lower body injury sidelined Harris for a significant portion of training camp. He put himself through a grueling workout regimen upon returning from that injury that included doing extra cardio that lasted for up to an hour following training camp practices. Harris was preparing for another possible heavy workload this season after toting the rock 395 yards in 18 games (including the postseason) as a rookie.
“I just want to be prepared for anything that’s presented to me during the season,” Harris said during the final week of camp. “So if it’s a heavy workload, I want to be prepared for that. I was down for two weeks. I kind of went back conditioning-wise, but I’ve been doing a lot of swimming, hills, running extra, even the plays after practice, just running extra. Any way that I can stay in shape.”
The Steelers will face a Patriots defense this Sunday that allowed the Dolphins to rush for just 65 yards on 23 carries in their 20-7 loss in Week 1. In a losing effort, the Patriots’ defense put forth a solid showing. They allowed the Dolphins to pick up just 18 first downs and 307 total yards. New England also held Miami to just 6 of 14 on third downs.
While they managed to leave Cincinnati with a win, the Steelers’ offense struggled to get much going against the Bengals’ defense. In 70 minutes of game time, the Steelers’ offense compiled just 13 first downs (compared to the Bengals’ 32) and 267 total yards. Pittsburgh ran for just 75 yards on 22 carries, with receiver Chase Claypool serving as the team’s leading rusher with 36 yards on six attempts.