Pittsburgh Steelers open 21-day practice window on T.J. Watt

PITTSBURGH -- T.J. Watt could be back in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform very soon.

The Steelers opened the 21-day practice window Monday for the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who's been on IR since tearing his pectoral muscle in the overtime Week 1 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Watt also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to clean up a lingering preseason injury, delaying his return, sources told ESPN earlier this month. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he didn't expect Watt to be available to play this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers have a bye the next week before hosting the New Orleans Saints in Week 10.

Watt practiced Wednesday, days after he also did on-field work during team warm-ups before the Steelers took on the Dolphins on Sunday night.

Without Watt, the Steelers have struggled to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback and have recorded just five sacks in the six games since Watt's injury. With Watt playing against Cincinnati in Week 1, the Steelers sacked quarterback Joe Burrow seven times. Watt had one sack, and Alex Highsmith, who plays opposite of him, recorded three. Highsmith is fourth in the league with 6.5 sacks this season.

Meanwhile, the 21-day practice window on Steelers rookie receiver Calvin Austin III closed Wednesday, and he will remain on IR for the rest of the season, the team announced.