DECEMBER 13: Watt has been officially cleared by an independent neurological consultant and is no longer in concussion protocol, per the team’s senior director of communications Burt Lauten. There is still the matter of the NFL and the NFL Players Association’s review of the Steelers’ handling of his concussion check in the team’s Week 14 contest with the Patriots, but Watt’s removal from the protocol likely hints at no issue.
After Watt took a knee to the head from Elliott and returned after a brief check-in on the sideline, he reported concussion like-symptoms the next day. Obviously a potentially dangerous situation, the league decided it would investigate how the team handled Watt’s potential head injury. We’ve seen lots of seemingly concussed players come out of protocol within a week, so despite his clearance, Watt still may have suffered a concussion and returned to play. The league and the NFLPA has set out to determine whether or not that is the case.
DECEMBER 9: The Steelers’ depth on the edge could be tested next weekend. Following news that pass-rusher Alex Highsmith was placed in concussion protocol, the Steelers have announced that T.J. Watt has also been placed in protocol (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).
The Watt development is a bit more unexpected. The star defender briefly exited Thursday’s game after taking a knee to the face from Ezekiel Elliott on the first play from scrimmage. Florio writes that Watt was briefly checked for a concussion before being cleared to return on the same drive. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo notes that the medical staff also took an extended look at Watt’s jaw/mouth, and Florio says Watt was spotted wearing a tinted visor at one point.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic passes along that Watt arrived at the team facility yesterday with symptoms, necessitating his placement into concussion protocol. Both Watt and Highsmith will now need to be cleared by an independent neurologist before returning to practice.
Fortunately, the Steelers have time on their side. Kaboly notes that the Steelers are off the next three days. They’ll resume practices on Tuesday in preparation for their Week 15 game against the Colts next Saturday night.