We do not know, at least as of the time of this writing, what the word is on the status of Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt and the severity of his suspected torn pectoral muscle that he suffered late in yesterday’s season-opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
What we can pretty much take for granted is that he is going to miss time, one way or another, whether it’s a good chunk of the season or the entirety of it, and that’s unavoidably going to be a devastating blow to the defense, and the team as a whole. But somebody is going to have to come in and take over his spot. Malik Reed believes he can be that somebody.
“I know God has me here for a reason, for a purpose, so I am ready embrace that”, the veteran outside linebacker told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after the game. “I had a lot of opportunities starting games (in Denver), so I am going to be ready for it”.
The Steelers acquired Reed for a swap of future late-round draft picks on final cutdown day in an effort to bolster their depth at the outside linebacker position, which at the time projected to feature Derrek Tuszka and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. as their reserves to Watt and Alex Highsmith.
Reed is a fourth-year veteran with 34 starts in 45 career games played over the previous three seasons with the Denver Broncos. He recorded 123 tackles while there along with 15 sacks, three forced fumbles, and four passes defensed.
Reed did play in yesterday’s game and recorded one tackle, a combined run stop with Devin Bush, stymying Bengals running back Joe Mixon on 1st and 10 for no gain. That was the drive just before the half on which they would end up giving up a 31-yard run up the middle on 4th and 1.
Reed was only on the field for that first-down play. But he’s going to be playing an awful lot more than that barring either miraculous news on the Watt front or the front office making a move to acquire another starting-caliber outside linebacker in the interim.
With Rashed currently on the Practice Squad/Injured List, Delontae Scott is the next man up as far as promotions to the 53-man roster go. Jamir Jones is the other outside linebacker on the 53 behind the starters alongside Reed.