As we’re now well into week two of Steelers training camp, the pads are now on and the practice skirmishes are aplenty, as yesterday several more developed involving key members of the defense, Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt. Heyward and running back Benny Snell were going at it but then another developed involving Watt and rookie speedster Calvin Austin. After tackling Austin, Watt gave his head a nice push into the turf and all hell broke loose. However, earlier today, Watt downplayed the incident.
“Sometimes you just black out and you’re just trying to have fun, getting people involved and it was a little skirmish,” Watt said courtesy of Steelers.com. “We’re having fun, we’re flying around, there’s still a lot to improve on but it’s been a good start so far for the defense.”
Now a full participant in training camp, unlike most of last year as he was embroiled in a contract dispute, Watt is taking it all in, and embracing the role of being a leader, not only of the defense but the entire team. One thing he’s quickly taking note of is the different makeup of the offensive line this year, as several key free agents including center Mason Cole and guard James Daniels were added to reinforce a weak link of the team last year. And when you get to line up against the likes of Watt and Heyward in a training environment, as they say, “iron sharpens iron.”
“Any time they get to see our advanced 3-4 defense, it’s hard for those guys to block, especially with the amount of pressures and different guys coming and other guys dropping into coverage, it’s difficult for them.”
Not only on the offensive line does the team have several new faces, but across the entire roster. Guys like Myles Jack, Levi Wallace, Larry Ogunjobi or Mitch Trubisky. And that’s not even including the impressive rookies the team has selected this past April. As the face of the defense, Watt says it’s his responsibility to “just be an open book” for them, and show them what it means to be a Steeler, whether that’s the way they train, the way they watch film or the way they play.
As the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt isn’t the type of player to rest on his laurels. Especially when older brother J.J. has three of the same trophies on his mantle. Entering year six, Watt was pressed as to what fuels him after coming off such a phenomenal season. He downplayed the individual accolade, citing a Super Bowl is obviously the ultimate target. However, being comfortable in the team’s defense is something he said is required and allows him to wreak havoc on a weekly basis. And he said his game hasn’t fully developed yet, which should send opposing quarterbacks across the league into a panic.
“I feel like I have so much more to give to the game, not only for myself, but also for my teammates, and not just on the field, but also from a developmental standpoint.”