Friday, October 7, 2022

Steelers place T.J. Watt on IR with pectoral injury: All-Pro pass-rusher to miss at least next four games

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T.J. Watt won’t be out for the season as initially feared, yet he’ll be on the sidelines for a bit. The Steelers announced Thursday that they have placed Watt on injured reserve, as he’ll be out several weeks with a pectoral injury — which was initially thought to be torn.

Instead of requiring surgery and being out for the season, Watt will miss a minimum of four games — a big victory for the Steelers considering they could have lost their star pass rusher for the year. Watt finished with two pressures, a sack, and an interception through three quarters of the Steelers’ season-opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Watt may return before the end of October, which is huge for Pittsburgh considering how good he was last season. He finished his 2021 season leading the league in sacks (a record-typing 22.5 in 14 games), quarterback hits (39) and fumble recoveries (three). He averaged 1.5 sacks per game and finished with 12.5 sacks in the second half and overtime — which also led the league. He’s just the fifth player to lead the league in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits in a season — joining DeMarcus Ware, J.J. WattChandler Jones, and Aaron Donald

Watt’s 0.94 sacks-per-game average is the highest in league history, as he and Reggie White are the only players to have 13-plus sacks in four consecutive seasons (has 73 sacks in 78 career games). Only White (nine), Bruce Smith (seven) and Kevin Greene (six) have more 13-plus sack seasons than Watt — whose four 13-plus sacks in his first five seasons are tied with White for the most in NFL history. 

The Steelers defense had a dominant performance Sunday, finishing with five takeaways (one by Watt), seven sacks (one by Watt), 15 pressures (two by Watt), and four interceptions. They’ll have to make up for the loss of Watt for several weeks, but are expected to get him back for the second half of the year. 

A good alternative all things considered. 

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