Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been patiently waiting the return of T.J. Watt. After suffering a hamstring injury early in training camp, the organization has been taking things slow, erring on the side of caution to avoid a setback which could cause Watt to miss some regular-season games.
The preseason is meaningless, but for a player who’s entering only his second year and is switching positions, some might say it’s a more important time than most. So, when I had the chance to ask Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders some questions surrounding the Black-and-gold, I wanted to know more about Watt.
In other words, what can fans expect from Watt in Year 2, assuming he is healthy?
Check out what Knowles had to say:
Watt may have not been in the backfield on every play, but that’s because he was so valuable elsewhere. He’s already one of the best pass-covering linebackers in the league; he managed a 71% success rate, and only two other linebackers in the league were asked to cover more often than he was. He’s bulked up a bit, and I think moving to the left side is going to pay dividends as well. He got better as the year went along, too, which bodes well for 2018. I’d like to see him improve his abilities in run support, but that’s a sentence you can say about almost everyone on the front seven. High hopes seems justified to me.
I’m a firm believer the Steelers don’t throw rookie defenders into the starting lineup just because they’re first-round draft picks. They have to earn it, and the fact that Watt earned his spot on the team over a player like James Harrison from Day 1 should speak volumes about his potential.
However, potential is a dangerous word. Not everyone lives up to the potential foreseen for them, and that’s when you start hearing the word “bust” attached to certain players. For some reason — maybe it’s the Watt football pedigree — I don’t see the b-word being used in connection with Watt’s name anytime soon.
Despite sitting out most of camp, you can only imagine how determined and focused Watt has been in his effort to get back and study the defense. I realize there are no repetitions like physical repetitions, but if someone is able to go in and not miss a beat without practicing a ton, I’d put plenty of money on T.J. Watt.
I expect big things from Watt in Year 2, and so should you! But are you tempering your expectations or letting it all hang out?! Let us know in the comment section below!