The 2023-24 NFL Honors ceremony is set to take place this week, just days ahead of Super Bowl 58. This year, Steelers fans will undoubtedly all have eyes on star edge rusher T.J. Watt, who was named a finalist for AP Defensive Player of the Year — an award likely to come down to a narrow race between he and AFC North Rival, Myles Garrett. He’s not the only one to watch at this year’s ceremony, however.
Here’s a look at the four Steelers to keep an eye out for as potential award winners at this year’s NFL Honors ceremony. Tune in on Thursday, February 8 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS or NFL Network.
Defensive Player of the Year: OLB T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt had a phenomenal season in 2023, totaling 19 sacks on the year, becoming the first player in NFL history to lead the league in sacks in three separate seasons since the stat first was tracked back in 1982. Watt’s closest competition for the award at this point is likely AFC North rival Myles Garrett, despite having outpaced Garrett in sacks, tackles for a loss, quarterback hits, tackles, passes defended, interceptions, and fumble recoveries, among others.
Watt’s accolades this season include first-team All-Pro honors, in addition to being named AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL Committee of 101 and the Defensive Player of the Year by NFL Network.
Walter Payton Man of the Year: DT Cam Heyward
Each year, every NFL team nominates a candidate for Walter Payton Man of the Year, honoring players around the league who have demonstrated excellence on and off the field supporting charitable efforts within their community. This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers nominated defensive tackle Cam Heyward for the award — his sixth nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award throughout his career.
Heyward’s contributions to the local Pittsburgh community are extensive and varied, ranging from Craig’s Closet, which provides local high school boys with clothing for interviews and internships, through volunteer work at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Sacking Childhood Hunger campaign — all in support of local youth.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: CB Joey Porter Jr.
Steelers rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. didn’t earn a full-time role on the defense until Week 8. However, once he found his way into the lineup, it became clear that he’s got a very, very bright future with elite upside as a premier shutdown corner in the league. Among the nine rookies to play 300 or more snaps in coverage, Porter Jr. led the pack with -0.28 EPA per target, a 44.8% completion percentage and a 39.7% tight window throw rate forced as the nearest defender.
Porter Jr. isn’t likely to walk away with the award amidst some stiff competition, but all in all, his rookie season was a rousing success in most aspects. He was named a finalist for the award along with Texans DE Will Anderson Jr., Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon, Eagles DT Jalen Carter and Rams DT Kobie Turner.
Angry Run of the Year: RB Najee Harris
This might not be an officially sanctioned NFL award, but as recent tradition would dictate, but Angry Run of the Year is an NFL Network special, relatively new and ridiculously fun award that highlights some of the best, angriest and most powerful efforts while demolishing opponents through contact in the run game (or after the catch).
Running back Najee Harris won Angry Run of the Week five times throughout his career, most recently back in Week 17’s showdown against the Seattle Seahawks. That week produced two angry runs from Harris — one where he miraculously managed a touchdown through boatloads of contact from defenders trying to bring him down, and the other, a stiff arm that sent a Seahawks defender to the moon.
There can only be one.— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) February 7, 2024
ANGRY RUN of the Year
WHO YOU GOT. pic.twitter.com/Ny2lVGTPaa
In the 2022-23 season, the award went to Texans running back Dameon Pierce.