The Steelers activated linebacker T.J. Watt from the Reserve/Injured List to the 53-man roster today.
In addition, the team downgraded safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (appendix) to out for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
The team also placed cornerback William Jackson III on the Reserve/Injured List and elevated safety Elijah Riley to the Active/Inactive Roster for the game.
Watt was placed on the list after suffering a pectoral injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the season. He returned to practice on Oct. 26 and the Steelers had a 21-day window to either activate Watt to the 53-man roster, or he would have remained on the Reserve/Injured List for the remainder of the season.
Watt spoke following practice on Friday and is trilled to be back.
"I am very excited. It's been a long time coming," said Watt. "I feel very, very good about the week that I had and excited to play, excited to be back at Acrisure Stadium and get the fans involved.
"It's huge to finally have a helmet back on and be out there on the field. Just to feel the emotions and feel alive again in the stadium. It's huge to be able to tap a guy on the head after he makes a good play. Get some guys celebrating. Bring some juice, bring some energy is all that I can ask for when it's time to play football. And I'm excited about it."
Watt said he doesn't expect to be limited at all.
"No pitch count," said Watt. "I don't want to put limitations on myself. I've never played 100 percent of the snaps anyways."
In Watt's absence the Steelers have had their struggles on defense, and he said the key for him is just being himself and not trying to overdo it.
"I am just trying to not be someone that I am not," said Watt. "That's all we ask. I am not going to go out there and try to make every single play because I am putting guys in the back end at risk. I am trying to help this team win games any way I possibly can, whether that's just making plays or being on the field in a leadership role as well."
Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had a sack and an interception in the win over the Bengals, before leaving the game with the injury. He said he is hoping his return will provide a spark for the defense because all he wants to do is go out and win.
"I think everybody in here is trying to find a spark and trying to get in the win column," said Watt. "Every week it starts with having a great week of practice, which I feel like we have. I'm excited to go out and see what were made of on Sunday.
"I feel really good. We have a good plan. I honestly feel really good."
Jackson was acquired by the Steelers via a trade with the Washington Commanders prior to the team's bye week. He has yet to see action and missed practice all week with a back injury.
Jackson has played in 75 career games, including 64 starts. He has 205 career tackles with five interceptions, 51 pass defenses and one sack.
Riley was previously elevated to the Active/Inactive Roster for the Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills and the team's Week 6 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and saw action in both games.
Riley was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets during training camp. He started the last seven games in 2021 for the Jets, after he was signed off the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. He finished with 45 tackles and three tackles for a loss. Riley, who played at Army, originally signed with the Eagles in 2020 as an undrafted rookie free agent.