Pittsburgh Steelers: Breakout Candidate – LB TJ Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a wealth of young talent defensively. Sean Davis, Artie Burns and Javon Hargrave were solid rookies last season. Bud Dupree and Stephon Tuitt are entering their third year and the Steelers expect both to be major factors this season. Those players aside, everyone is excited about the potential of first round draft pick T.J. Watt from Wisconsin.

Yes, that is the younger brother of all-everything defensive end J.J. Watt.

The Watt brothers will see the field together on Christmas Day as the Steelers and Texans play at 4:30 that day.

With Harrison sitting out OTA’s in June, the team got an upfront look at what Watt brings to the table.

“What he’s shown me so far is he’s acclimated,” Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter said. “I feel comfortable with him out there. His learning curve is really good. With the reps he’s getting, it’s helping him prepare and get more and more comfortable with the defense. With as many practices as we have had, I can count how many mistakes he’s had on one hand. And that’s rare. I’m good with where he’s at. Anything going forward, we’ll just see how it goes.”

Harrison will more than likely begin the season as the official starter, but Watt will see significant playing time rotating play with Harrison.

“He’s an established veteran,” Watt said of Harrison. “I’m not trying to take anything away from him. I’m just going to come out here every day and let the chips fall where they may.”

For the defense to be as successful as it wants to be, its linebackers have to get to the quarterback.

Bud Dupree is looking like he will be a force in getting to the QB in 2017, so the more the merrier when it comes to others contributing. Harrison had five sacks last year.

Porter thinks T.J. Watt can make a difference.

“You’re always looking to improve,” Porter said. “That’s why we took another backer in the first round. We are always trying to get better. We are always trying to get those two players, those premier pass rushers. That is the reason you spend a first-round pick in Bud. You think he can get double-digit sacks. That is why you take a T.J. in the first round because you are hoping he will give you double digits in sacks. We are trying to get to the point to where the outside linebackers lead us in sacks. That is the goal. We addressed the problem. Now it’s time for us to get better and go out there and execute.”

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