The Pittsburgh Steelers walked away from Week 1 with mixed feelings. While they were able to get a win on the road against an AFC North rival, it came at a cost. TJ Watt‘s status remains up in the air after he suffered an injury to his pectoral, and Najee Harris may miss some time as well. As a result, the black and gold’s depth will already be put to the test early in the season.
Credit: Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)
Just a few weeks ago, the team’s depth at outside linebacker was quite concerning. Beyond Watt and Alex Highsmith, the position was filled with unknowns. Out of nowhere, general manager Omar Khan was able to go out and acquire Malik Reed from the Denver Broncos and a seventh-round draft pick for a sixth-rounder in the 2023 NFL Draft. Via Chris Adamski of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the veteran is ready to embrace this new opportunity:
“I knew that God had me here for a reason and for a purpose. Prayers up for TJ [Watt], I hope he gets back healthy as soon as possible,” Reed said via Adamski. “I’ll definitely be ready when the time comes.”
Reed added that while the specifics haven’t been explained as the team still awaits Watt’s status, the coaches have already told him he’ll have extended snaps now. Just 26 years old, Reed played 32% of the team’s defensive snaps on Sunday, in addition to eight plays on special teams. Between 2020 and 2021, Reed compiled 13 sacks and 25 quarterback hits in 32 games.
His role will now increase significantly, while Jamir Jones will also see some more playing time. Delontae Scott seems likely to replace Watt’s spot on the 53-man roster for the time being, as he currently sits on the practice squad. Scott was unable to make the opening day roster, but showed flashes throughout training camp.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Delontae Scott (50) during practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex preparing for a Week 16 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers)
The trade is now proving to be very valuable. While reports are becoming more and more encouraging regarding how much time Watt will miss, the team will still greatly miss his absence. When Bradley Chubb missed extended time in Denver, Reed was able to step up and perform in his absence. He’ll be asked to do the same thing in Pittsburgh, and fans should be confident that he can hold the pass rush down until Watt returns this season.
What are your expectations for Reed in Watt’s absence? What about for Jones and possibly Scott? Should the team go out and get a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, as well as on our social media pages.
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