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T.J. Watt officially activated for Week 10

The reigning NFL Defensive player of the Year is now officially set to see his first action since Week 1.

NFL: JAN 09 Steelers at Ravens Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are shoring up their roster for their Week 10 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. In a move that has been anticipated all week, the Pittsburgh Steelers have activated T.J. Watt from the Reserve/Injured List (IR) to the active roster for him to play this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers have also ruled out safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with appendicitis.

The record for the Steelers without Watt is well-known, and getting the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year back in the lineup absolutely will alter the team’s outlook moving forward.

During Watt’s time on IR, he not only had to rehabilitate an injured pectoral muscle, but also had arthroscopic knee surgery which was to clean up a knee injury suffered in the preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions when tight end T.J. Hockenson blocked Watt low on a run play.

Hopefully T.J. Watt being added to the Steelers defense will help increase the pressure on the quarterback which has been lacking in his absence. Getting seven sacks as a team in the only game in which Watt appeared, the Steelers only have eight total sacks in the seven games since. When it comes to pressures, the Steelers had 14 pressures according to Pro Football Reference in the only game Watt appeared this season in Week 1. Since then, the Steelers have only reached double-digit pressures in one game against the New York Jets in Week 4 with 10. In all, the Steelers have 33 pressures in seven games without Watt, which is an average of only 4.7 per game.

Even if T.J. Watt is not the one putting pressure on the quarterback himself, other teams having to account for Watt should also help his teammates along the defensive front by drawing attention and I’m giving them more favorable matchups.

Exactly how much T.J. Watt will play on Sunday will depend a lot on how the game plays out and the number of defensive snaps the Steelers will have to be on the field. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers will be monitoring the number of snaps played by Watt on Sunday.

In order to make room for T.J. Watt on the 53-man roster, the Steelers have placed cornerback William Jackson III on IR due to his back injury. Acquiring Jackson from the Washington Commanders at the trade deadline, Jackson being placed on IR means he will miss at least the next four games.

Shortly before the Steelers announced these roster moves, it was reported that Minkah Fitzpatrick would be missing Sunday’s game due to appendicitis by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

With Fitzpatrick out of the lineup, the Steelers have elevated safety Elijah Riley for Sunday’s game. This will be Riley‘s third elevation, although he did not appear in the Steelers Week 5 matchup despite being active. In Week 6, Riley played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where on nine snaps he had one tackle.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage as the Steelers are set to face the New Orleans Saints Sunday at 1 PM at Acrisure Stadium.