The Pittsburgh Steelers could pick up their best player for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Outside linebacker TJ Watt was back in practice this week and didn’t rule out playing Sunday.
The fact that he is still open for discussion at this stage of the week must be a positive sign. It was previously believed that he would only return after the team’s bye week (which is next week).
Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has been sidelined since Week 1 of the 2022 season with a pectoral injury that was also followed by a procedure to clean out his knee. The Steelers defense struggled at times in his absence and were unable to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback.
It’s not a stretch to think that with a healthy Watt, the 2-5 Steelers could have an extra win or two this season given how close they are to many of their losses.
Watt has been one of the NFL’s best players since entering the league in 2017, and it’s pretty clear he’s the engine that keeps the team running. Since his debut, the Steelers are just 1-9 in games Watt has missed, while defensive performance drops noticeably. That lone win came two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
By comparison, the Steelers are 52-24-2 when Watt is playing, are allowing seven fewer points per game and recording 1.5 more sacks per game.
He completely changes the look of the defense, and even if he’s limited on Sunday, it would at least give them a bit more of a chance against the Eagles 6-0.