PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed star outside linebacker T.J. Watt in concussion protocol.
The perennial All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate reported concussion-like symptoms to team doctors on Friday, the day after a 21–18 loss to New England.
Watt, whose 14 sacks are second in the NFL behind Khalil Mack, briefly exited Thursday night’s game in the first quarter after taking an inadvertent knee to the facemask from Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Watt spent a brief period on the sideline before returning, recording five tackles while playing 51 of Pittsburgh’s 57 defensive snaps. He was held without a sack for the third time in 13 games.
Alex Highsmith, who with Watt makes up one of the best edge rush tandems in the NFL, missed most of the loss to New England after going into the concussion protocol in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh’s entire linebacking core has been beset by injuries this season. Inside linebackers Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb are already out for the year and Elandon Roberts played against the Patriots despite a groin injury.
The Steelers have limited options at outside linebacker, with rookie Nick Herbig and veteran Markus Golden the only players on the current active roster with outside linebacker experience.
Pittsburgh (7–6) plays at AFC playoff contender Indianapolis (7–5) next Saturday.