The Pittsburgh Steelers received some more bad news on the injury front for their defense this week, as it was announced that star EDGE rusher T.J. Watt was placed in concussion protocol Friday following the team’s Week 14 loss to the New England Patriots.
Watt is speculated to have suffered the concussion on the first defensive play of the game, where he took a knee to the head on a tackle from Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott. When asked if Watt was checked for a concussion following that play, Tomlin said, “I assume that he was, but again, I’m managing the game. I leave that to the medical experts.”
“They essentially tell me whether someone is out, whether they are subject to return or whether they’re back. I got a report that he was subject to return, and then I got a report that he was back. That was just my knowledge of the details of what transpired with him during the time he was out of the game.”
Upon Watt’s return to the game (whether or not he was formally evaluated for a concussion remains unclear), he was notably donning a darkened visor, which he hadn’t previously been wearing. Immediately, some began to speculate something was amiss, as light sensitivity can be a symptom of a concussion.
Tomlin was asked regarding a potential reason for switching to a darkened visor, “I wasn’t aware of that, to be honest with you, so I don’t have a response to that. I wasn’t aware that he changed visors. He normally wears a visor. Are you saying the tint of his visor was different? I wasn’t aware of that.”
Watt also missed a previously scheduled post-game interview with NFL writer Peter King due to a “migraine,” further bolstering some of those concerns that Watt may have played through the game with a concussion.
It seems likely given the circumstances that the NFL will investigate the situation as to whether there was any deviation from the concussion protocol.