Steelers News

T.J. Watt Making Most Of Pro Bowl Experience Even Though ‘Being Here Means You Didn’t Get The Job Done’

Making the Pro Bowl has become old hat for T.J. Watt at this point in his career. Through his first five years, he has made it four times, consecutively. That doesn’t stop him from showing up, though, for the event, even for what it implies.

Being here means you didn’t get the job done, you’re not playing the big one that matters”, he said during Thursday’s Pro Bowl practices. By that he refers, of course, to the Super Bowl, as those on the Pro Bowl roster whose teams advance to the Super Bowl obviously do not participate in the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated during the first round of the postseason a couple of weeks ago, which is the same thing that happened the year before, though due to the pandemic, there was no actual Pro Bowl event last year—perhaps why more players showed up, with Cameron Heyward in his fifth Pro Bowl. It helps that they have two new faces with them in Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris.

“To be able to be here with Cam, Naj, and Diontae is a special experience”, Watt said. “Just being around the best of the best in the NFL, to be able to get ideas from guys and just pick their brains, it’s always a fun experience”.

The final Pro Bowl rosters including Matt Judon and Harold Landry at outside linebacker, DeForest Buckner, Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, Chris Jones, and Jeffrey Simmons up front, Jonathan Taylor and Nick Chubb at running back, and Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Keenan Allen at wide receiver. That’s not a bad group of guys with which to talk shop.

Watt also likes to play in the game, and even enjoys the practices. “I always say this game is kind of like a feeler. If I’m feeling decent, I’ll go a little bit more, but if I’m not feeling good, I’ll dial it back and just be safe. But it’s always a fun experience”, he said.

He also appreciates the fact that he gets to work with other coaches, with Tennessee’s staff working with the AFC this year. “I’m just excited to be part of the Titans staff. They got a 3-4 defense, Bud [Dupree] and Ola [Adeniyi] are over there, too. Just being able to share stories with those guys will be fun”.

The Steelers’ coaching staff worked the Pro Bowl back in 2017, I believe, when they were well-represented. That year, while some were awarded as alternates, they had 10 players on hand, with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Roosevelt Nix, Cameron Heyward, Chris Boswell, and…Ryan Shazier, who of course was unable to participate due to a career-ending spinal injury.

That was Watt’s rookie season, the only year since entering the NFL during which he did not make the game. Perhaps that added some fuel to his fire, seeing so many of his teammate and his coaching staff working the game while he sat at home.

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