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This and That

This & That: Watt's motor, Renegade & more

Motor is running: Rookie T.J. Watt's motor doesn't stop. Maybe it is a family trait like Ryan Shazier hints at, or maybe it's just his style, but either way it's paying off for the Steelers' defense.

"I don't think the whole Watt family has an off switch," said Shazier.

Watt used that motor to sack Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer twice, and also intercepted Kizer, in the Steelers 21-18 win.

"He is a great hustler," said Shazier. "That is going to take him to the next level. A lot of people in this profession, if they don't beat the guy the first time, they tend to give up. T.J. never stops giving up. At the end of the day that is going to allow you to get a lot more plays that a lot of people missed out on."

Watt, though, just looks at it as doing what he is supposed to do, not really doing anything unordinary.

"That is not something I really analyze," said Watt. "I just play as hard as I can. That is who I am. When I am out on the field, I am going to try my absolute best to never give up on a play. I don't know if I think about it. It's just something I am going to do."

Home field advantage: Sunday will be the first time several Steelers play in front of the Heinz Field crowd in black and gold, as well as the first time one player who is accustomed to a Heinz Field crowd plays in a regular season NFL game there.

Joe Haden and Vance McDonald have played at Heinz Field, Haden with the Browns and McDonald with the 49ers. But they are looking forward to their first time doing so with the Terrible Towels waving in their favor.

"I am expecting it to be good, exciting," said Haden. "The difference between going to Cleveland and not getting cheered, is playing here in Pittsburgh and getting the love from them. It should be cool. I am just excited to be here. We have some talent here. I know what we can do with this team. I am happy.

"Seeing the towels is going to be exciting. Pittsburgh, the fans, the atmosphere. Every time I have come out here it has been amazing. It's going to be sweet. I didn't like seeing the towels too much when I played against them, but just the atmosphere, knowing that they really care about their team. I like exciting football atmospheres, even if they are cheering for us or against us."

McDonald hasn't been in Heinz Field as often as Haden, playing just one game there, a 43-18 Steelers win in 2015. He knows what it was like that day, and expects even more this week.

"Whenever we played here two years ago it was a great atmosphere," said McDonald. "It's a great atmosphere for football. I am excited to see what Steelers Nation brings to the table."

James Conner knows what Heinz Field can be like. He played there while at the University of Pittsburgh, but has also been there as a spectator for Steelers games in the stands. And he is ready for Sunday.

"The first preseason game I got a little taste of going back to Heinz Field in a different uniform," said Conner. "I know this atmosphere will be different. I am excited for it. I have seen how the atmosphere can get from the stands, but being on the field, looking around, it makes you want to play and give the fans what they want to see."

And what is one thing that is really going to give them a feel for being a part of the atmosphere? When Renegade comes on and it fires up the crowd.

"That is my favorite part of the game," said Haden as he broke into a huge smile. "Everyone pays attention." 

Giving his take: Former Steelers running back Merril Hoge continually keeps an eye on his former team, and he likes what he sees from this year's squad.

"As scary as it sounds, offensively they could be even better," said Hoge. "That is saying something when you have as many phases as they do on offense. I can't think of another team in football that has that many.

"Defensively, you usually make your greatest improvement as a player from your rookie year to your second year. They had a lot of young players last year, rookies playing, and if they continue to get better the defense will get better. There is a lot of talent."

Even with all of the weapons at the skill positions, Hoge knows what any good running back knows. It all starts up front with the offensive line.

"Ultimately that is what matters," said Hoge. "You can have all of the skill players you want, but if your offensive line is not great, whatever your skill set is on the back end, it's going to be minimized. This is a good line."

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