Last season the Pittsburgh Steelers had both of their starting outside linebackers, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, switch primary sides and that move certainly paid off for the former as the Wisconsin product registered 13 total sacks to go along with 3 defensed passes. Oh, and Watt also forced 6 fumbles via his sacks as well.
While Dupree didn’t come close to registering the kind of numbers that Watt posted in 2018, he still managed to record 5.5 sacks, 3 passes defensed and an interception. Now with both players having worked a full season on new sides, Watt hopes he and Dupree can combine to post even better pass rushing numbers in 2019.
“Yeah, Bud’s really a special player,” Watt said of Dupree during his Friday interview on The Jim Rome Show. “He’s an athletic freak. He can jump high, he can run fast, he can rush the pass. You can drop him coverage, he can do a multitude of things. And we’re both really settling into our sides. Last year was both of our first times playing him primarily on the right side and me primarily on the left side. And I think that this is going to be a really special year for the both of us. And we’re just going to try to meet at the quarterback together as many times as we possibly can this year.”
Watt was later asked during the Friday interview to talk some about how him switching from the right side to left side last season helped him and what the biggest difference was when it came to that move.
“Yeah, the biggest thing for me being on the left is being able to see the quarterback,” Watt said. “Most of the quarterbacks in the NFL are right-handed quarterbacks, so being able to see their eyes and seeing where they’re looking while they’re throwing. And being able to see when they’re throwing and get my hands up in the passing game, or just to be able to diagnose if he’s actually handing the ball off, or if it’s play action pass. And then also just from a comfortability standpoint, for me, I just feel way more bendy and agile on the left side as opposed to the right.”
Watt talked some to Rome about his Pro bowl experience last season and how he used it to learn how to get better as a pass rusher by learning from some of the other great pass rushers in the NFL who also participated in the annual NFL all-star game.
“Yeah, I talked to guys like Von Miller, Dee Ford and guys like that,” Watt told Rome about his Pro Bowl experience last season. “Just guys I’ve watched to be able to have great moves. Like Melvin Ingram, he’s got a great spin move and just kind of take away a simple move that I can come back and obviously this year’s OTA’s try out more things. And this fall camp I’ve been able to just try new things and not be afraid to fail. And that’s the biggest thing at this level, you just want to find little areas where you can get better. And if you’re not going to try new things, then what’s the point of even going out there and playing.”
Watt, who missed the Steelers preseason opener due to a hamstring strain, was able to play in the team’s second preseason game last Saturday night. He’ll also play Sunday night against the Tennessee Titans and maybe even the entire first half. Watt told Rome that he values preseason playing time as it gives him opportunities to perfect his craft.
“So, I think this time of year, like you said, the preseason’s important for me because I want to go out there and try some new moves that I’m not necessarily ready to use for the regular season yet,” Watt said. “So that’s what I’ll be doing this preseason.”