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Watt ready to take the next step

Posted Apr 9, 2018

With a year under his belt, T.J. Watt is ready to do more in the defense.

Rookie lesson: The lessons learned during a rookie season are plentiful, and everyone walks away with something different that stands out.

For T.J. Watt, it was all about having a short memory. Watt learned you can’t let a play stay with you long, whether it’s good or bad, because another one is coming at you fast and you must be ready.

“I think no matter how good you’re playing, how bad you’re playing, how good the play was or how bad the play was, you have to have a short memory in this league because every play means so much,” said Watt. “The magnitude of every play is so much more significant than any other level I’ve played at.

“Coming in everybody was always telling me about the speed and the size. I think I adapted to that well. The thing a lot of people don’t realize is how much weight is carried on every play. As you advance in the postseason that kind of grows exponentially.”

Watt admits it was something that he had to adjust to early on, but his desire to never make the same mistake twice made that adjustment much easier.

“When you come in to training camp, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to mess up, I don’t want to mess up,’” said Watt. “Then as you do have those mess-ups the coaches evaluate how quickly you can forget, move on and try to not make the same mistake over again. I think that’s something I pride myself on is not making the same mistake twice. As you get success, you kind of have to re-humble yourself and keep staying hungry for more. I think I’ve done a great job, whether I’m playing good or bad, of just always being hungry to be a better player.”

Speaking up: One of the best pieces of advice Watt said he got from his older brother, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, was to come in his rookie year and know his role. That meant let the veterans do the talking, and you sit back and observe. He did that, but heading into his second season, he said he feels more comfortable being a player whose voice is heard.

“I’m not learning now,” said Watt. “I’m not going to be sitting in the hotel room with Keion (Adams) trying to figure out plays and stuff. I know all the plays, and I have relationships with the players now. I can be a little more vocal. I know who I’m working with out there. I feel like I’m going to be able to take more risks being able to contribute more now that I have more leeway. I feel more comfortable in the system.”

Gearing up: Watt isn’t someone who likes to sit idle, working out is just something that is in his DNA. When the season ended he took some time to let his body recover, especially after being in on 951 snaps from what he was told. But he didn’t take long.

“I’m more excited than ever to come back for a second year,” said Watt. “Everyone says the offseason is going to fly by. I didn’t have all the Combine training and all that stuff, so it’ll was a little bit of a relief to kind of get away from football for a little bit, but then I got back into training, and am getting ready to go for the season. I’m going to be grinding the whole way. I’m excited.”

Pieces to the puzzle: Watt loves the talent the Steelers have on both sides of the ball, and while the way 2017 ended will sit with him and his teammates for a while, it will also drive them to be better.  

“I think we have the pieces to the puzzle, and we know we can compete at the highest level,” said Watt. “We were in so many close games throughout the year that I think we just want to come back and make the margins a little bit bigger. We want to give ourselves a little bit more room. We want to do so many great things, and we know how close we were but at the same time, we do not like the taste it let in our mouths. I think that will drive us all individually and collectively as a group.”