When Pittsburgh Steelers’ star linebacker T.J. Watt first stepped into the lineup as a rookie in 2017, the Steelers’ defense was in a period of transition overall, as guys like James Harrison, Mike Mitchell, Willie Gay, and Arthur Moats were the main leaders defensively on a unit that struggled throughout the season.
Stepping into that lineup though with a bunch of veterans around to help benefited Watt’s development early on. Now, similar things are happening on the offensive side of the football for the Steelers, as Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett are new faces under center, while James Daniels, Mason Cole, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin III are new faces along the offensive line and in the wide receiver room.
Speaking from experience, Watt — during an interview with Missi Matthews for Steelers.com — handed out some advice for the new faces on the offense, telling them to listen to the older guys and learn from observing overall, especially the rookies.
“Listen to the older guys. I mean, we had Willie Gay, I remember I came in and Ryan Shazier was there, Mike Mitchell in the back and just so many guys that knew how to play the game,” Watt said, according to video via Steelers.com. “And I was so young. I didn’t really know how to play the game, how to study film, just talking loud. I think that’s part of it. Just the communication aspect is to really sit back and watch how the older guys handle their business.
“I feel like that’s the best way to kind of acclimate yourself to being a professional.”
Listening to the older guys and learning while observing has certainly helped Watt become the player he is today, which is one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL.
It would be wise for the new, young faces on offense to not only listen to the older guys on offense, but the older guys on the roster, ones who have been around the block a time or two and know what it takes to be a pro and a leader within the locker room. That means guys like Cam Heyward, Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tyson Alualu, and more.
Though it’s a relatively young team overall at the moment, there’s plenty of experience within the roster top to bottom. That will help with the transition overall for the Steelers in a season of change.