T.J. Watt’s injury could prove devastating for the Pittsburgh Steelers on both sides of the ball, ESPN analyst Ryan Clark has claimed.
There are a lot of players in the NFL who can make a case that they are the best at their position. For example, you can look at Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers who won league MVP for each of the past two seasons, or Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp who won the triple-crown last season having led the league in catches, yards and receiving touchdowns.
When it comes to edge rusher, there shouldn’t be much of an argument when it comes to that spot, because it belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J Watt. Coming into the season, Watt had racked up 294 total tackles, 22 forced fumbles, 72 sacks, 4x Pro Bowl, 3x First-team All-Pro awards and took home NFL Defensive Player of the Year last year after leading the league in sacks, the second time he’s done that, and did so tying the league record for sacks in a season with 22.5.
And against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, he picked up right where he left off as the Steelers came out on top 23-20 in a very close game.
T.J. Watt goes to work
It was like he was able to step right out of last season and into this one, as he racked up 6 tackles, 3 of which were for loss, had 1 sack, 2 pass deflections and 1 interception, anchoring a Steelers defence that gave Joe Burrow nightmares all through the game, including a first half that saw the Bengals turn the ball over four times in the first half and five in total.
The performance came at a big cost though, as late in the game whilst trying to make a play, Watt injured himself and knew right away what the problem was.
Video: T.J. Watt walks off the field injured:
I'm not a lip-reader, but there are others suggesting T.J. Watt's saying, 'I tore my pec,' in coming off a few minutes ago. He's gone to the locker room.pic.twitter.com/LtvogDv20n— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) September 11, 2022
And Ryan Clark, a former member of the Steelers team, believed that his impact will be felt not just on his side of the ball, but for the offense as well.
Speaking on ESPN’s Get Up, Clark (starting at 0:55), claimed that because of the way he plays, he is able to help the Steelers by getting them great opportunities on the other side of the ball and they can afford to take a few more risks knowing that he can bail them out if it goes wrong, but now that option is gone.
Video: Ryan Clark discusses T.J. Watt’s impact for the Pittsburgh Steelers:
The good news for the Steelers is that it appears as though the tear isn’t a full one which would likely be a season-ender, as both reports hint that to be the case, and that Watt appears to be pretty upbeat about the matter when reporting for practice today:
There's some optimism today in Pittsburgh that OLB and Reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt did not experience a full pec tear and will be able to return after sitting for a month or so, per league source. Still awaiting word from the team.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) September 12, 2022
FWIW, Watt was decently chipper when he declined interviews today. Walking with a good spring in his step, snapping. If you’re into reading body language and such. https://t.co/wreBwELruB— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 12, 2022
If the Steelers are to have any chance of success this season, then Watt will play a major part in it. They just have to hope that he isn’t out for too long.