T.J. Watt returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since sustaining his pec injury during the Steelers' Week 1 win over the Bengals. The Steelers now have 21 days to activate Watt, who remains on the reserve/injured list. Pittsburgh faces the Eagles on Sunday before entering their Week 9 bye.
Conversely, rookie tight end Calvin Austin III will remain on the team's reserve/injured list for the remainder of the season after not being activated on Wednesday. Austin, a fourth-round pick out of Memphis, sustained a foot injury during training camp.
Watt's return to practice is certainly good news for the Steelers, who have struggled to sack the quarterback in the weeks following Watt's injury. Pittsburgh has just 12 sacks through seven games, a far cry from the previous five seasons, when the Steelers held at least a share of the NFL's sack title each year. More than half of Pittsburgh's sack total this season has been tallied by fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who led the NFL in sacks entering Week 7.
The NFL's sack leader the previous two seasons, Watt appeared to be on his way to winning a second straight Defensive Player of the Year award in Week 1. Against the defending AFC champions, Watt had a sack, an interception, six tackles and three tackles for loss while helping the Steelers pull off an upset win. Watt sustained his injury during the final seconds of regulation.
The Steelers are currently 2-5 following Sunday night's loss to the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday, the Steelers will try to knock off the undefeated Eagles while recording the franchise's first win in the City of Brotherly Love since 1965.