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Mike Tomlin on T.J. Watt: Optimistic on contract, expect him to practice Wednesday

The Steelers will need to hammer out a handsome extension if they want key defensive piece T.J. Watt on the field for their daunting Week 1 season opener against the Bills.

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt hasn’t been practicing because he wants a new contract and that’s left the team with some uncertainty about the availability of one of their best players heading into a Week One game against the Bills.

Watt’s status for the opener was a topic of conversation at Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s Tuesday press conference. Tomlin said that he remains “optimistic” that the Steelers and Watt will work out an extension ahead of the start of the regular season.

Tomlin also said that he is “proceeding with the assumption” that Watt will be a full participant in Wednesday’s practice as the team gears up for their trip to Buffalo. He went on to say that he also expects “quality play” from the All-Pro despite the lack of on-field work this offseason and summer.

The next few days will show whether Tomlin’s optimism about the contract is well placed or if the impasse will extend into the indefinite future.