Neither practiced this week after suffering injuries during the tie game against the Lions. Watt, who missed one game earlier this year because of a groin issue, is now battling hip and knee trouble. Haden is dealing with a foot injury.
This will further deplete a Steelers team that has Ben Roethlisberger and Minkah Fitzpatrick on its reserve/COVID-19 list. Mike Tomlin has said Fitzpatrick, placed on the list after a positive COVID test Monday, is unlikely to suit up. The team remains hopeful Roethlisberger, who has experienced symptoms after testing positive last Saturday, will start despite not practicing this week. The Steelers must activate Big Ben by Saturday afternoon for him to return to action.
Going through a contract year that is expected to lead to a free agency run, Haden missed a game earlier this season. He has been a Steelers starter since 2017, with his arrival coinciding with the team making a leap on defense. Watt arrived the same year, and his presence has been the top driver for the Steelers leading the NFL in sacks four years running.
Pittsburgh still has Alex Highsmith set to start Sunday, but its trade of Melvin Ingram stripped away a key depth piece — albeit one disgruntled about his reserve role at the time — from a defense that has dealt with injuries throughout the season.
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