PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt will be available when the defending AFC North champions open the season on Sunday in Buffalo.
The three-time Pro Bowler is entering the final year of his contract and negotiations on a possible extension are ongoing. Watt didn’t play during the preseason and did not participate in 11-on-11 drills during training camp.
Watt said Tuesday he thinks Watt’s status will be resolved this week. Tomlin said he expects Watt to “work” with the team on Wednesday, but did not elaborate if that will include Watt participating in the contact portions of practice for the first time since a playoff loss to Cleveland in January.
The 26-year-old Watt has been a fixture in the starting lineup since being taken with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He has 49 1/2 sacks over the first four seasons of his career, the sixth-highest total over that span by any player since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.
If Watt is limited, the Steelers will have Melvin Ingram available. Pittsburgh signed the nine-year veteran to a one-year deal in July.