When the Pittsburgh Steelers lost Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans in free agency in March, it appeared that star outside linebacker T.J. Watt would be taking on a mentor role with second-year pass rusher Alex Highsmith for the 2021 season and beyond.
However, the Steelers added 10-year veteran Melvin Ingram into the mix at outside linebacker prior to the start of training camp, giving Watt another veteran to bounce ideas off of and help bring along Highsmith at a faster pace.
Having that veteran pass rusher alongside him has been an awesome experience so far this season for Watt, who has been able to pick Ingram’s brain when it comes to certain techniques as the highest paid defender in football continues to try and perfect his craft.
“Yeah, it’s been awesome,” Watt said to reporters Friday according to Steelers.com. “Just to have a guy who’s a Pro Bowler who’s known for his pass rush in the room and he has a lot of great drills that he’s taught me. And uh, just little things that. Once you’re around the same group of guys for an extended amount of time, you kinda, I don’t want to say you’re lackadaisical, but you get used to what you’re seeing. And when you get a new guy in here, especially of his caliber, he can say, ‘Hey, you’re doing this with your hands, try something else.’ And it’s really been a breath of fresh air to have him. And he looks great. I mean, super competitive guy. And I’ve learned a lot from him in a short amount of time we’ve been together.”
Though we don’t truly know just what the working dynamic is like during practice, film room, and in games to this point, there’s no doubt that Watt now has a teammate who he can really pick the brain of when it comes to rushing the passer. Ingram didn’t fall into 49.5 career sacks prior to signing with the Steelers this summer. When Ingram was truly healthy with the Chargers earlier in his career, he was a physical force to be reckoned with off the edge.
While Watt may be enjoying Ingram’s presence to pick his brain and improve as a pass rusher, where he’ll really be thankful to have Ingram in Pittsburgh is late in the season when he’s as fresh as he’s ever been thanks to the true three-man rotation at outside linebacker the Steelers now possess with Watt, Ingram and Highsmith, which wreaked havoc in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line.