Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave a brighter outlook on T.J. Watt than the team initially feared.
The defending Defensive Player of The Year left Week 1's game after appearing to tear his pec. While Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that Watt "definitively" won't play this Sunday against the New England Patriots, they're "encouraged" by his status.
"We're probably in a lot better place than we were after the game," Tomlin said.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Watt is not expected to need surgery and could return this fall. The team is waiting on a second opinion before proceeding.
Of course, no one player will fill the void left without last season's sacks leader. Tomlin said the Steelers will rely on "a cast of characters" to replace Watt, who recorded a sack and an interception in Week 1's overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
While missing Watt for any period of time hurts, a few weeks is far better than the alternative of the entire season. The Steelers haven't decided whether to rule out the star linebacker for at least four games by placing him on the injured reserve.