Steelers’ TJ Watt doesn’t appear to need surgery for torn pecs, can return before end of October, report says

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ worst fears may not come true. It was a bittersweet start to the year for the franchise as they managed to hold off the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 with an overtime win. But it comes at a cost, because a number of players left due to injury, including star passing thrower TJ Watt. He went down with a pectoral injury in the second half, and it was reported that Watt suffered a torn pectoral.

One day removed from the game, however, there is a more optimistic tone surrounding the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reports that there is optimism in Pittsburgh on Monday that Watt has not suffered a full pec tear and will be able to return after sitting out for about a month. Monday evening, NFL Media reported that the belief is that Watt will not need surgery and could possibly return before the end of October, depending on how quickly the injury heals.

Of course, further testing will fully determine the extent of the injury and a clearer timeline, but this is far more encouraging news than how ominous things seemed to come out immediately on Sunday.


Prior to leaving due to the injury, Watt was his typical dominant self, totaling six tackles (three for a loss), one sack and one interception as the Pittsburgh defense did a fine job against Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback was sacked a total of seven times and was forced to four interceptions and a fumble. Watt is coming off a 2021 season where he tied the single-season sack record with 22.5.

“Having TJ there definitely benefits us,” Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward said of Watt’s impact after Sunday’s win. “He’s a leader. He’s Defensive Player of the Year. No matter how long it takes, other guys have to step up. Alex [Highsmith] stepped up pretty good today. Malik and Jamir [Jones] arrive. We had to do different things there. We are rallying around him, and when he comes back, we will be ready.”

Over the next month, the Steelers are expected to host the Patriots in Week 2, visit the Browns in Week 3, face the Jets at Acrisure Stadium in Week 4 and face the Bills at Buffalo in Week 5. If Watt sits out for just a month, that could be the window of games he misses with a comeback against the Buccaneers in Week 6 on Oct. 16 as a possible return date.

Again, a more precise timetable for his possible return and a real gauge of the severity of the injury should be unearthed in the coming days.

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