T.J. Watt Injury Update: Latest News on Steelers’ All-Pro Pass Rusher

T.J. Watt left the Baltimore Ravens game with an apparent knee injury. What do we know about the extent of the All-Pro pass rusher's injury?

T.J. Watt is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, and he’s undoubtedly the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defense. But the Steelers’ All-Pro pass rusher was injured against the Baltimore Ravens. What do we know about the injury, and what could a serious injury mean for the Steelers heading into the offseason?

T.J. Watt Injury Update

Watt was a victim of an unfortunate friendly fire incident. As the ball was thrown downfield, teammate Montravius Adams landed on his left foot, and Watt’s leg stuck into the turf. The broadcast quickly panned to the league leader in sacks after the play was over. Watt was seen angrily pounding on the turf in obvious pain.

Although the talented pass rusher was able to eventually rise and walk off the field and to the tent under his own power, that does not necessarily mean that he avoided a major injury in his knee. He was able to make it back to the locker room without assistance, which is certainly a better sign than needing a cart.

He was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game.

MORE: Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart

Watt has been the most prolific pass rusher in the NFL over the past half-decade. However, despite being a former Defensive Player of the Year, the versatility in his game has often gone unnoticed. Although he was a productive but inconsistent run defender early in his career, he’s rounded into one of the best edge-setters in the NFL.

Watt’s energy might be what he’s best known for. Other pass rushers might be more aesthetically pleasing, but Watt grinds like few players in the NFL. That ferocity allows him to make plays that others do not. His 17 sacks heading into Week 18 led the NFL.

But the three-time All-Pro also bats passes down at an incredibly high rate while consistently forcing a lot of fumbles to boot. He is the entire package as a defender. He even baited Matthew Stafford into throwing an interception early this season.

Update: ESPN Insider Adam Schefter posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the Steelers believe Watt suffered a sprained MCL, but will undergo further testing to confirm.

Could This Change the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Draft Needs?

Even if Watt’s injury proves serious, he will eventually return as the Steelers’ defensive stalwart. However, he was less effective coming off injuries in 2022, and Pittsburgh has consistently ignored proper depth on the edge, opting to play Watt and Alex Highsmith at a very high rate of defensive snaps.

The EDGE class isn’t comprehensive, but there are a few players that fit the mold of a rotational Steelers outside linebacker. Alabama EDGE Chris Braswell likely won’t ever be a consistently dominant pass-rushing threat, but he plays with the same unlimited battery power that Watt and Highsmith play with.

Nick Herbig hasn’t played a ton for Pittsburgh as a rookie, but he has been relatively impressive in relief. However, because the Steelers like to keep their pass rushers to one side, having another young pass rusher could allow for them to have a complete four-man rotation.

The Steelers have too many other needs at premium positions to consider an outside linebacker early in the draft, no matter how serious Watt’s injury may be. He’ll eventually return, and he’ll be the same player then as he has always been.

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