Steelers LB and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt suffered a torn pectoral muscle in yesterday’s win over Cincinnati. What would likely be a season-ending injury if he decided to undergo surgery, could be reduced to a multi-week absence if he pursues a physical therapy route.
The injury shouldn’t be uncommon to T.J., whose older brother J.J. suffered a similar injury during Week 8 of the 2019 season. J.J. opted for surgery, and missed the remainder of the regular season before playing in both of Houston’s playoff games.
There are two pectoral muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The major muscle is the one most commonly referred to as the “pecs,” and is the most frequently injured, while the minor sits beneath it and is less frequently injured.
The pectoralis major has two heads – the clavicular and the sternocostal – and connects (inserts) to the humorous just below the shoulder. If the tendon where the pec inserts has fully ruptured, Watt will have to undergo surgery quickly to regain full arm strength and function.. If the muscle itself is just badly strained, he could end up missing only a few weeks.
If Watt can get by without undergoing surgery, he will be relegated to cardio-only football activities until the pain and swelling subsides, which can take up to three weeks. After that, he will have to focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles rather than the pectoral major itself. In all, Watt could hypothetically return sometime in Week 5 or 6.