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Watt will he do for an encore?

T.J. Watt dropped into zone coverage in the right flat and went up to defend a pass in the fourth quarter at Detroit, as he had in the third quarter at Cleveland, only this time Watt didn't come down with the football.

"I definitely should have had it," Watt insisted Sunday night at Ford Field, after the Steelers had survived the Lions, 20-15.

Outside linebackers coach Joey Porter expected nothing less in terms of Watt's reaction to a pass he defended but didn't intercept on first-and-10 from the Lions' 15-yard line with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter.

"He's always telling me he feels like he can't do anything right," Porter said. "I try to tell him, 'You're playing well, don't worry about it.'

"Just from the background of the family he comes from I'm pretty sure he's getting criticism from home, so he always wants to do a little more. I tell him the plays are going to come. The first week he had two sacks, and sometimes you go four or five games without getting one, but that's those guys (on the other teams) making plays over there, too.

"A far as his progression and where he's going, he's on track to play good football and he's been playing good football."

The Steelers' No. 1 pick arrived at the bye week tied for second on the team with four sacks (defensive end Cam Heyward leads with five, inside linebacker Vince Williams also has four), tied for fifth in tackles with 27 (inside linebacker Ryan Shazier leads with 64, Heyward likewise  has 27) and second in quarterback pressures with six (behind Heyward's 11). Watt is also one of six Steelers with an interception (Shazier leads the team with two).

Watt compiled his numbers in seven starts.

But despite missing the Steelers' loss on Sept. 24 at Chicago with a groin injury, the rookie from Wisconsin maintains he should have done more than he's done.

"I'm just so close on so many plays," he said. "I just gotta finish."

Porter's applying more patience as it relates to interpreting the statistics.

And he's already appreciative of what the Steelers have been able to do with Watt as well as what Watt's been able to do for them in his first half-season in the NFL.

"He has the concept down," Porter said. "As far as him knowing the defense, he's doing real well.  We can move him around, do a lot of different things with him because of how much range he has. He has good hands, a lot of good length. It's amazing to watch that guy grow. There's still a lot left that he hasn't shown yet.

"I'm looking forward to the second half of the season so he can show everybody what he can do."

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