The mystery behind Steelers edge T.J. Watt practice absences

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Nine days into Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, and T.J. Watt has yet to practice.

As ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tweeted, she first asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin when he thought Watt might be joining training camp practice. When Tomlin replied that Watt is “day-to-day,” Pryor followed up asking if Watt was injured — to which Tomlin simply replied that injuries don’t need to be discussed right now. It is NFL policy that teams don’t need to get into injuries to players during the offseason.

Why Watt hasn’t been partaking remains a mystery. Is it injury-related or contract-related, or both? Perhaps the Steelers are just protecting their investment. As things currently stand, the Pro Bowl edge rusher is set to play 2021 on his fifth-year option. Though the Steelers have remained mum on the situation of a long-term deal for Watt, they are likely about to enter contract negotiations or are in the midst of it. If Watt were to get hurt in practice during the process, it puts both parties in a jam.

No matter the reason, according to Pryor, Watt seems displeased that he hasn’t been taking part in practice.

When camp opened last week, Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette asked Watt why he didn’t participate in drills; Watt said, “We are here a week earlier than we normally are, and I am just trying to progress the proper way. Like I said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m trying to do everything the right way.”

All that really matters is that T.J. Watt is there with his teammates and staying active. He’s been at this Steelers things for going on five seasons — once he gets the green light, Watt’s systems will go.

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