The Pittsburgh Steelers could get a much-needed jolt as they start the second half of their season.
Four-time Pro-Bowler T.J. Watt told reporters on Friday that he expects to be on the field during the Steelers' game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Watt has been sidelined since Week 1 with a pectoral injury.
Watt also suffered a setback in early October when he underwent a knee procedure.
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“It's been a long time coming. I feel very, very good about the week that I've had,” Watt said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Steelers opened the practice window for Watt in late October. The team has yet to officially activate the 28-year-old off injured reserve.
Watt's potential return comes at a pivotal point in the Steelers' 2022 season.
Pittsburgh sits in last place in the AFC North with a record of 2-6 and has one of the worst defensive records in the league.
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The Steelers are giving up 5.9 yards per play this season and have struggled to stop opposing offenses from converting on third downs.
Pittsburgh's pass rush has been virtually nonexistent since Watt's injury. The Steelers had seven sacks in the season opener against the Bengals, but have only managed eight in the seven games Watt has missed.
Watt had 22 ½ sacks in 2021, which tied Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan's NFL single-season record.
The Steelers certainly hope that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year can provide a spark and help turn the defense around.
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Several other Steelers defensive players are dealing with injuries, including linebacker Myles Jack (knee), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (knee), cornerback Levi Wallace (shoulder) and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring).
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Watt led the league in sacks the past two seasons.