Tagged in: pass rusher

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt doesn’t need surgery, expected to miss six weeks

Doctors determined Tuesday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt does not surgery on his torn pectoral and the star pass-rusher is expected to miss about six weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watt, who suffered the injury on Sunday in a 23-20 overtime triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals, had sought out second and third opinions on the injury.

Watt on Tuesday tweeted a gif of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character saying “I’ll be back.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated earlier Tuesday that the organization was “encouraged” about the injury outlook for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

“We’re probably in a lot better place than we were after the game,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “… I can definitively say that T.J. won’t play this week [against the Patriots], but I won’t make any commitments beyond that.

“We’re encouraged, and we’ll just continue to look at the situation and gain opinions and do what’s appropriate.”

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Watt appeared to suffer a torn left pectoral muscle in the final seconds of regulation when he tried to sack Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and as he walked off the field, he told medical personnel that he tore his pec. Watt recorded a sack and an interception in Sunday’s match.

Asked if Watt would go on injured reserve, Tomlin was noncommittal on Tuesday.

Injured reserve would rule Watt out for a minimum of four games. The Steelers can designate up to eight players to return from IR throughout the season, and each player can return twice.

In Watt’s absence, the team will first turn to outside linebackers Malik Reed, gotten in a trade with the Broncos last month, and Jamir Jones, whom the organization grabbed off waivers. The Steelers signed veteran linebacker Ryan Anderson to their practice squad later Tuesday, but Tomlin didn’t commit to playing new faces on Sunday.

Last season, Watt had 22.5 sacks to tie the NFL’s single-season sack record. He has 73 sacks in his career.

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Jadeveon Clowney re-signed with Cleveland Browns so he could play again with Deshaun Watson

Jadeveon Clowney admitted Thursday that he ultimately decided he would be re-signing with the Cleveland Browns once he knew quarterback Deshaun Watson was headed to Cleveland, too.

“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year,” the defensive end said when listing the reasons he returned to the Browns.

“Then my boy came here, Deshaun.”

Clowney is coming off a breakout season with the Browns after signing a one-year deal last year. Playing opposite All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, Clowney concluded with nine sacks; both Garrett and Clowney ranked in the top four in the NFL in pass rush win rate.

“Me and [Garrett] did some good things together,” Clowney said as the Browns completed their final minicamp practice at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“We got along well. We played well together. We fed off each other. We’re going to do the same thing this year, even better. … We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going this year.”

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What tipped the scales for Clowney, though, was the chance to play again with Watson, his former teammate with the Houston Texans.

“I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going,” Clowney said. “I just wanted to go play with him and see what I can do with him again.”

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans.

A source told ESPN that Clowney spoke to Watson the week of the trade while Watson was still considering joining the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons and that, in their conversation, Clowney gave Cleveland and the Browns a strong endorsement.

“I told him if he goes [to Cleveland], then I will follow him over here,” Clowney said. “That’s what it came down to.”

It is still unclear when Clowney will actually get to play with Watson, though. Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions.

Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct and the league interviewed the quarterback in person last month as part of its investigation.

At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought the NFL was nearing the end of its investigation but that he couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made. Watson has maintained his innocence, reiterating Tuesday that he never “harassed” or “disrespected” or “forced” any woman.

Clowney said he isn’t worried that a potential Watson suspension could derail Cleveland’s season.

“We’ve got a good defense, we can hold it together,” he said. “We did good last year, and we were banged up on offense all over the place and our defense played well for what we had going on. … We’re going to be all right.”

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Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday

The Bengals will have their top pass-rusher available for Saturday’s playoff game.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson successfully cleared the concussion protocol and will play versus the Tennessee Titans in the teams’ AFC divisional-round playoff game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday.

“He’s been in these moments before,” Taylor said in a teleconference with local reporters. “He’s one of our premier players. It’s good to have him.” Hendrickson left the team’s 26-19 wild-card-round victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 15 and entered the league’s concussion protocol.

He made progress toward returning throughout the week, starting with limited participation at Tuesday’s practice and then practicing in full on Wednesday.

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Since signing with the Bengals in the 2021 offseason on a four-year, $60 million deal, Hendrickson has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

In the 2021 season, he tallied 14 sacks, which led the team and is the most in a single season in Bengals history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He also ranked ninth in the NFL in pass rush win rate among edge rushers during the regular season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

The return of Hendrickson boosts a defensive line that will still be short-handed against the top-seeded Titans. Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week.

He left the victory over Las Vegas with a foot injury and tweeted on Thursday that he had successful surgery.

Saturday’s game against Tennessee is Cincinnati’s first divisional-round game since January 1991. The Bengals are looking to make their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since 1988.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence debating whether to report to training camp

The Dallas Cowboys could be without their star pass rusher entering training camp.

DeMarcus Lawrence, a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2017 and 2018, is debating whether or not he will skip training camp due to the upcoming birth of his daughter. His wife is due in October and the current coronavirus pandemic may make it unsafe for Lawrence and his family.

Cowboys training camp is set to start on July 28. “I’m taking it one day at a time, talking with my team and trying to figure out as many details as possible before I make a decision and have it set in stone,” Lawrence told ESPN.

“Shoot, I love to ride with my brothers and play the game of football. When I have to take that away from myself, it’s hard and I don’t want to make a decision like that. But I also have to make sure I’m taking care of my family. Family is No. 1. After the game of football is done, that’s the only thing I have to depend on, so I’ve got to take care of them.”

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He doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s birth after being absent for his son’s birth back in 2014.

“But my No. 1 concern is will I be able to see my family and be there for my daughter’s birth?” Lawrence said. “If I can’t be, we’re really going to have to take some major difficult considerations about this season, because I’m not missing the birth of another child.”

The Cowboys haven’t exactly had the best of offseason. Dallas was recently unable to complete a long-term contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.

The failure to get a deal done before the deadline last Wednesday means the 27-year-old will play on a franchise tag — a one-year deal — worth $31.4 million. Lawrence is entering the second year of a five-year, $105 million deal — with $65 million guaranteed — that he inked prior to the begining of the 2019 season.

If he sits out training camp, he would be forced to repay part of his bonus.

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