There were fears that Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt would miss the rest of the regular season when he tore his pec last weekend, which made this week’s news that he doesn’t need surgery and will likely be able to return around midseason a big win.
Watt did go on injured reserve, though, and the Steelers will have to play without him for at least four games. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin admitted that things are “gonna change because he’s not there,” but said the structure of the Steelers defense will not change as they ask other players to take on bigger roles.
Defensive end Cam Heyward shared a similar take about moving forward without the 2021 defensive player of the year.
“Obviously, you don’t want to play without a guy like that, but guys gotta step up,” Heyward said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re not going out there saying that we have to change up our entire scheme and stuff, but we just gotta make sure we do our jobs.”
Alex Highsmith and Malik Reed will be the key guys stepping up for the Steelers this week. Highsmith had three sacks against the Bengals in the opener and the Steelers will be hoping he continues to be as productive without Watt on the other side of the field.