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Payton Wilson’s “bum knee” remains a mystery as he starts his Steelers career

For the NFL Draftniks out there, the name Payton Wilson was a name they knew heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. When you look at positional rankings, Wilson was up near the top of the linebacker rankings, if not at the top, as one of the best inside linebacker prospects among the 2024 crop.

You can see just how confusing it was for fans of both Wilson and the draft that he wasn’t the 2nd Round pick many projected. In fact, as the 3rd Round slowly moved on, many were wondering why Wilson was falling down the draft board as far as he had. That is until the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him near the tail end of the 3rd Round.

What made him fall that far? According to everyone with a platform/microphone, it was due to injury issues. More specifically, the fact he only has one ACL.

Steelers fans immediately connected the dots with Wilson and former legend Hines Ward, who also only had one ACL in his body, but the difference is Wilson has no idea about his ACL, or where this rumor came from. In other words, Wilson isn’t buying what they’re selling.

“I really don’t have a clue,” Wilson said about where that rumor came from. “When I went to the Combine, that was the first time I heard of it. I haven’t had problems with my knees since 2018. I’ve been playing a long time on what they call the bum knee. I’ve been playing like this for so long, like it doesn’t bother me. My knees don’t bother me. I’m not going to have problems.”

To try and find the genesis of these “issues”, you’d have to go back to Wilson’s redshirt freshman season at N.C. State. Wilson had a graft done on his ACL, which doctors said looked different.

“I had a graft on my ACL that just it looks a little different, but I definitely have something in there,” Wilson said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to run around and cut the way that I do or move the way that I do. So I think a lot of it is kind of just hearsay. But at the end of the day, I’ve been playing for five or six years on it just perfectly fine.”

After his redshirt season, it was injuries to both shoulders that sidelined him at times. But those times away from the game helped him in so many ways.

“I’ve definitely had some injuries but I just come back stronger and better and faster every single time,” Wilson said. “My love for the game has grown so much because it’s been taken away from me, and I literally do anything in the world to be on that field. I love this game so much.”

When it comes to his injury history, the past two years have shown he is able to have injury-free seasons, and show the durability necessary to be an every down linebacker at the NFL level. Nonetheless, regardless of why Wilson fell, or the rumors surrounding his health stemmed from, he is glad he is a member of the Steelers.

“I’m a super-confident person, and I believe in my talent,” Wilson said. “So I’m just going to continue to work and get better and help this team win a Super Bowl. Every team’s goal is to win a Super Bowl, and I want to contribute to that anywhere possible.”

Wilson has not just gone to a defense-first organization like Pittsburgh, but also into a perfect situation with veterans Patrick Queen and Elandon Roberts entrenched ahead of him on the depth chart to start the season. If Cole Holcomb isn’t able to return to the lineup early in the season, Wilson will have an opportunity to show his worth, but not to be asked to be a starter barring an injury to someone ahead of him on the depth chart.

In other words, Wilson is in a great spot to succeed, and the Steelers are hopeful they found a gem in this 3rd Round pick.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.


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