T.J. Watt just continues to get better. The 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has figured out what it takes to be as consistent and unstoppable as ever each year since entering the league in 2017. While he has suffered minor injuries here and there that have briefly knocked him out of the lineup, he’s started at least 15 games all five years to begin his career. That’s in large part because of the hyper focus Watt commits to training throughout the offseason. Sitting down with Steelers reporter Missi Matthews on Wednesday, he spoke about how his training has developed.
“Of course, I know what drills to work on,” said Watt. “I’m more comfortable with what I need to work on, self-evaluating and just being open to coaching. I feel like when you’re younger, you’re just trying to work on everything and you don’t really know how to focus on a specific task each day. Whereas out here, I can come out here and say, today, I need to work on these steps or this pass rush move tomorrow.”
Sure, every NFL player puts in the work necessary to put themselves in position to play at a high level. But it’s hard not to think that Watt doesn’t go above and beyond to ensure success. As for specific pass rushing moves, Watt has only sharpened his repertoire over the years. Since registering seven sacks in his rookie year, he’s steadily increased that number to the point of tying the all-time record with 22.5 in just 15 games.
Even when Watt wasn’t officially practicing with his teammates through the vast majority of last season’s training camp because of a contract holdout, he was still working off to the side with assistant coaches. That’s something that not every high-profile player waiting to get his money would do. Plus, Watt has garnered so much respect in the locker room that he had the full support of his teammates and coaches throughout the whole situation.
And a reminder that all he did when he did get on the field for Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills was rack up two sacks, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and five quarterback hits. More than anything, the oftentimes soft-spoken Watt has led the Steelers defense by example. In addition to the production, that kind of leadership is indispensable in an NFL locker room. It’s just another cherry on top of everything that Watt continues to provide for the Steelers.