T.J. Watt‘s return should be coming sooner than later, and it sounds like the organization is targeting a specific return date. According to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, the Steelers are optimistic that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year could be back on the field for Week 6 against the Buccaneers.
This is the earliest possible date for Watt’s return after the Steelers placed him on injured reserve in mid-September. When Watt first suffered his injury, it was uncertain if he’d even be able to return this season. We later learned that his pectoral injury wasn’t as severe as initially believed, but it wasn’t a slam dunk that he’d be good to go after only four weeks on IR. Ultimately, it sounds like he’s speeding toward that lofty target, and for what it’s worth, La Canfora writes that Watt has been pushing to return as soon as possible.
Watt suffered the injury in Week 1 after collecting six tackles, three tackles for loss and an interception. He had 72 sacks through his first five seasons with Pittsburgh, including 37.5 sacks over the past two years alone. The Steelers haven’t won since losing Watt to injury, losing each of their past three games after winning the season opener.
Since Watt went down with his injury, Alex Highsmith has stepped up as the team’s top pass-rusher, collecting 5.5 sacks through four games. Malik Reed has also seen an uptick in snaps, culminating in him earning two straight starts. Reed collected 13 sacks for Denver between 2020 and 2021, so the Steelers will be eyeing some significant pass-rushing depth once their top guy returns to the lineup.