Steelers activate Watt, work him in slowly


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Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) stands with fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree after shutting things down Sunday night. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers activated Pro Bowl outside linebacker T.J. Watt off the PUP List, clearing him to practice for the first time at training camp during Sunday night's Family Fest at Heinz Field.

Watt experienced some tightness in his hamstring after completing the team's run test on reporting day at training camp two weeks ago and had not practiced since, being placed on the PUP List.

Watt was limited in practice Sunday night, shutting things down following individual position drills, but it was a good first start.

"We worked him a little tonight and we'll continue there and get him on this moving train," Mike Tomlin said. "He did the individuals, did some prescribed work."

Watt wasn't the only player to return Sunday and then leave early. Rookie receiver Diontae Johnson was back after suffering a hip injury Friday night at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. He practiced early, but shut things down with a groin issue.

Corner Artie Burns also practiced early but did not finish because of a groin issue that kept him out of Saturday's practice.

Meanwhile, center Maurkice Pouncey left midway through practice with what appeared to be a back injury, but Tomlin said the issue is minor.


Placekicker Chris Boswell's struggles last season have been well documented. But he's been good throughout training camp.

Sunday night, however, was his first chance to kick at Heinz Field under the watchful eye of the coaching staff. Boswell responded by making seven of his eight field goal attempts here, all of 30 yards or more. His only miss came from 41 yards. That included a make from 54 yards.

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith has been having his field goal unit simulate late-game situations, scrambling into position while he counts down from 12 seconds. Boswell's miss from 41 yards came on such an attempt into the open end of the stadium. Boswell hit all four of his attempts into the closed end.

"We're just getting started exposing him to some pressure," Tomlin said. "One of you guys asked how we can create that in a training camp-like setting. You saw examples of it tonight."


The Steelers have been judicious with their use of James Conner in their 11-on-11 running drills with live tackling. But Conner got the first carry Sunday night in a goal-line series, scoring from the 2 on his only attempt.

The offense won the live drill, 4-3, with Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and Trey Edmunds getting into the end zone. Samuels and Snell also were stopped on runs, while a play-action pass to Vance McDonald from Mason Rudolph was broken up by Terrell Edmunds.

"They got us by one today," said nose tackle Javon Hargrave. "But we'll get them the next time."


[caption id="attachment_867216" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Steelers training camp, Heinz Field, Aug. 4, 2019 - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

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