While fans have seen very little of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top draft pick from 2017 lately after he injured his hamstring just five days into camp, they might not have to wait too much longer to see T.J. Watt back in action.
Speaking to the media after practice on Wednesday, Watt seemed confident he was close to a full return to practice and he appeared pleased with the pace of his recovery. As he told reporters:
“I think I’m ready to go whenever. I feel like my body is coming together really well, I feel like I’m healing really nicely. It’s just a matter of being smart right now, with me and the trainers bouncing ideas off each other and I feel like once I’m ready to go, there won’t be a beat skipped.”
Watt: "I'm healing really nicely." pic.twitter.com/8uxe3o9Zpd— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 22, 2018
Given the nature of his injury, it’s understandable that the coaching staff has been cautious about rushing Watt back onto the practice field, and the young linebacker is more than aware of the dangers of trying to return too soon.
“I think you look at the hamstring injuries that a lot of guys have, and those linger on. When you have that injury, it tends to re-aggravate if you don’t treat it the right way early on. So I think, although it sucks, it’s the best time of year for it to happen just so I can get this fixed and out of the way and just be really smart so it doesn't re-aggravate throughout the season.”
Despite having switched sides to accommodate Bud Dupree, Watt seemed unconcerned about the amount of practice time he missed this offseason. Citing his experiences playing on the other side in college, and his progress on the left early in camp, Watt dismissed any suggestion that missing three weeks of practice was a big deal.
“No, no, not at all. I started off camp doing fine on that side, so I’m not worried about it at all.”
Chris Adamski of TribLive reported that Watt was a more active participant in practice on Wednesday after he was seen in pads doing individual drills. However, he was still held out of team drills later in the session.
It seems highly unlikely that Watt will be joining his teammates to face the Tennessee Titans on Saturday afternoon, but fans should keep their fingers crossed that he might yet be cleared to play against the Carolina Panthers the following Friday.