Heyward: Defensive Focus Against Texans QB Watson Is Controlling Rush Lanes

The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the 0-2 Houston Texans on Sunday at Heinz field and that means their defense will be saddled with the big chore of containing quarterback Deshaun Watson. On Wednesday, Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward addressed the media prior to the team’s practice, and he was asked what the biggest focus is for the defense against the Texans on Sunday. Not surprisingly, Heyward pointed to containing Watson’s mobility.

“I think rush lanes,” Heyward said. “Deshaun will make you pay if you give him more time and he’s got some really good receivers in [Will] Fuller and Randall Cobb. We gotta make sure we take care of our business, take care of our rush lanes.”

So far this season, Watson has run with the football 11 times for 44 yards and a touchdown. Last season, he rushed 82 times for 413 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s one of the NFL’s most mobile quarterbacks so the Steelers defense must be careful in their pass rushing schemes and especially when playing man-coverage because that’s when several defenders won’t be able to focus on what happens in the pocket.

The Steelers defense did a great job last season of defending against Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the league’s most mobile signal caller right now. That recent effort last season and how they prepared for Jackson ahead of that Week 5 contest will likely be closely followed this week.

“Watson himself is going to be a ridiculous challenge not only in terms of his quarterbacking ability and his arm talent but his ability to improvise, his ability to extend plays, his leadership skills,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the Texans quarterback on Tuesday. “He’s battle-tested. We’re facing a group that’s a little bit different than the first two groups we faced, particularly from a quarterbacking standpoint, not only in what he’s capable of but his experience and what they expect from him is dramatically different than our first two games.”

While Watson has been the NFL since 2017, Sunday will mark the first time the Steelers have played against him as the young quarterback missed the 2017 meeting between the two teams in Houston due to a torn ACL. Even so, Heyward knows enough about Watson at this point in his career to know that he can’t be taken lightly on Sunday at Heinz Field even on an 0-2 team.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Heyward said on Wednesday. “He’s able to fight for extra yards. He really is worthy of being one of the top quarterbacks in our league.”

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