PITTSBURGH — Steelers outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are in the NFL concussion protocol following Thursday night's game against the Patriots.
Highsmith left the game in the first quarter and did not return. His injury was first reported as a neck injury.
Watt was injured early in the game and left for a few plays, but he returned to play the remainder of the game. Watt played 52 of the 57 defensive snaps in the game. He reported symptoms when he reported to the team facility on Friday.
Watt and Highsmith will have to clear the protocol before they are allowed to play again. The Steelers' next game is Saturday Dec. 16 against the Colts in Indianapolis.
The Steelers defense, already reeling with injuries to their inside linebackers and safeties, would have their depth seriously tested if Watt and Highsmith cannot play against the Colts.
There are two other outside linebackers on their roster — rookie Nick Herbig and veteran Markus Golden, who was a healthy scratch for Thursday's game against the Patriots. Herbig played the rest of the game for Highsmith.
Kyron Johnson was elevated from the practice squad to play on special teams Thursday night, but he's never taken a defensive snap for the Steelers. He played in 16 games for the Eagles last season with all but 18 of his snaps coming on special teams.
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