PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are still negotiating a contract extension with T.J. Watt, but head coach Mike Tomlin expects the edge rusher to return to practice on this week.
"I remain optimistic that something is going to get done from a deal perspective," Tomlin told media during his Tuesday press conference. "That aside, I'm expecting him to work tomorrow. That's the approach I'm taking."
The Steelers will practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before traveling to Buffalo to open the regular season against the Bills. Tomlin said he expects Watt to be a full participant throughout those practices and doesn't expect the team to have to limit Watt's snaps during Week 1.
"One thing I'm not going to do is assume that he's regular," Tomlin said on Watt's preparedness once he returns. "Guys that are in the position that he's in are in that position because of their unique talents and skill set and will.
"I remember years ago, watching Aaron Donald here for the vast majority of July and August when he was in a similar circumstance, and I was not surprised when he got to LA and performed immediately to an Aaron Donald standard."
Watt has participated without pads throughout Steelers training camp and preseason, but has not hit. Tomlin doesn't expect that adjustment to take any time, and sees Watt being a factor for the Steelers this coming Sunday.
"Guys like those guys routinely do what others can't," Tomlin said. "I have that perspective on [Watt]'s readiness and his anticipated quality of his play."
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