Aug 21, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Steelers’ Mike Tomlin expects T.J. Watt to play in Week 1

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said it’s his expectation that two-time All-Pro and current holdout T.J. Watt will practice Wednesday and play in the team’s Week 1 opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Tomlin made the comments Tuesday, adding that he’s “optimistic” a deal will get done between the club and its four-year superstar.

“I remain optimistic that something’s going to get done from a deal perspective. That aside, I’m expecting him to work tomorrow. I’m proceeding with the assumption that he’s going to work tomorrow,” Tomlin said. “That’s the approach I’m taking. …

“I’m proceeding with the assumption that he’s working tomorrow and that he gets to add his talents to that (OLB) collection, and the development of that collection, and hopefully it culminates in quality play not only this weekend from that group, but obviously over the course of the 2021 season.”

The Steelers are expected to make Watt the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, however the sides are hung up on the among of guaranteed money, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Steelers, as a matter of policy, do not guarantee contracts beyond the signing bonus and first-year salary, per the report.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watt has been with the team at camp but has not participated in any practices or preseason games.

Watt, who turns 27 in October, is currently slated to play 2021 on the fifth-year option ($10.09 million) of his rookie contract, which he received for being a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) of the Steelers in 2017.

Watt, the younger brother of Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, has started all 62 games in which he has played. He led the NFL in 2020 with 15 sacks and also recorded seven passes defended, two forced fumbles, an interception and 53 tackles.

–Field Level Media

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