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Former Steelers LB Arthur Moats Who Suffered Pectoral Tear Raises Caution Flag About 6 Week Timeline For T.J. Watt’s Return

Abigail Dean / Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Steelers LB Arthur Moats Who Suffered Pectoral Tear Raises Caution Flag About 6 Week Timeline For T.J. Watt’s Return

Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats has a unique perspective on the injury T.J. Watt suffered on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. In the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs against the Denver Broncos, Moats suffered a similar injury. The former player turned podcaster, joined the PM Team W/ Poni & Mueller Tuesday afternoon to discuss the timeline for Watt’s possible return to the field.

Steelers Moats

CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 21: Arthur Moats #55 of the Pittsburgh Steelers salutes the crowd in the 3rd quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 21, 2014, in Charlotte, North Carolina / Credit:  Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

“Me being a guy who has torn his pec as well, not off the bone. I know what it felt like at six weeks. I personally didn’t feel like I was ready to go out and play in an NFL game,” Moats said. “Now T.J. Watt, I personally feel like he will be able to, if anybody can it would be him. But I’m just not as optimistic that it’s going to be this clean six weeks.”

Moats tore his pec muscle in what turned out to be the last game of the 2017 season in Denver in the divisional playoff round. He did not have to return in the season but goes on to talk about how the injury could respond for Watt during in-season rehab.

“You’re talking about a tendon that is connected to your chest, but it also dictates your shoulder as well. In terms of where your bicep connects to the shoulder, which is on your pec muscle,” Moats said. “Anything you’re doing in terms of extending your arm, the bull rush that hurts. The long arm that he loves that hurts. That’s without contact. Now you’re talking about doing it at the NFL level with guys on game day. I’m a little bit concerned about the six-week point that not being fully ready to go.”

Steelers TJ Watt

T.J. Watt (90) Celebrates Interception with Alex Highsmith (56) and Levi Wallace (29) / Credit: Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers

Watt has been a hurtling ball of fire in virtually every play of his career. The Steelers and Mike Tomlin need him on the field to get the best version of themselves on defense, but they did sign him to a four-year contract worth $112 million last offseason and they cannot afford to make the same mistake the Houston Texans made with his brother. The Texans allowed his brother to rush back from injuries that ultimately diminished him. J.J. Watt is still very good when he is on the field, but he is not the three-time Defensive Player of the Year anymore.

“It took me longer than six weeks, even when I came back and we were starting practices, you have to be smart with this thing. If it’s a situation where you are pushing and pulling you might have to go ahead and take a back seat on this particular play to save it for the long term,” Moats said. “We are talking about T.J. Watt that is not in his makeup. On gameday he is going to do whatever it takes to make plays.”

Steelers Watt

Sep 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; NFL referee Shawn Smith (14) flips the coin as brothers Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) take part before their game against at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 28-21. Mandatory / Credit: Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: Steelers TJ Watt Won’t Need Surgery After Week 1 Injury And Is Expected Back As Early As October

Moats makes a salient point, he was a competent NFL player but he was not on the same level as the All-Pro Watt. This is the former Defensive Player of the Year’s biggest strength and during rehab, maybe his biggest weakness. Brother J.J. had a similar injury in 2019 early in the season and had to undergo surgery to repair the tear. He returned late in the year which is almost unheard of with that type of injury, but he was not as effective when he did play later that season. He did not fully recover until the offseason.

“When you are asking could he come back in six weeks? What are the pros and cons to that, why I might not be as optimistic as everybody else. That’s largely it, he can’t be thinking about an injury, he can’t be playing to protect himself,” Moats said. “He plays 100%, 100 mph and that’s what makes him, him. I just don’t know if 6 weeks is going to allow him to do some of the things that we are accustomed to seeing from him.”

Steelers Watt

Credit: Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers

A half-speed T.J. Watt is better than most of the edge rushers in the NFL and getting him back at full strength for the second half of the season would be an optimal result. The Steelers have to think long-term and ensure that he is as close to 100% as possible when he returns to the field. They should not hold him back if he is ready, but this is a young football team that is building towards contention. The offense is significantly behind the defense at this point and risking Watt’s long-term health to go 9-8 is bad business and the Pittsburgh Steelers are long-term thinkers.

What do you think Steeler Nation? Do you agree that they need to be careful with Watt’s rehab? Comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

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I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.



  1. Timothy Richard

    September 15, 2022 at 7:28 am

    I’m thinkin a return after the bye week would be smarter here. Consider he’s double teamed a lot, opposing Olines could double him and target the torn muscle to take him out of the game. Give a youngster behind him meaningful snaps to improve depth along the Dline is what’s needed here. IF they make the playoffs it’ll be a one or two & done anyway.

  2. Don Owens

    September 15, 2022 at 9:37 am

    I hope that TJ is smart about his return! He is Awesome, He is a Great player! But in the end it’s his body! Not now, but 30-40 years down the road! Again the the old ounce of prevention saying! I want to see him back but not at 50 or 75 percent! Get well TJ!

  3. Michael a zdinak jr

    September 15, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    Nees to be as close too 100% as possible so as not to re injure the peck

  4. Pingback: The 2022 Steelers' Biggest Addition Might Be Brian Flores Now That T.J. Watt Is Missing From The Defense -

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