On Friday, the Steelers defeated the New York Giants by a score of 20-12 in their first preseason game. All eyes were on the rookies that the Steelers drafted in April as well as other players trying to make their mark for a roster spot.

One rookie in particular stood out from all of the rest. That rookie is none other than the Steelers’ 2017 first-round pick, T.J. Watt. Watt’s night was highlighted by 2 sacks on quarterback Josh Johnson.

A certain somebody saw what his younger brother was doing…

These sacks may have been easier to achieve due to the quality of players in the first preseason game but it’s an encouraging sign nonetheless.

The Steelers have had their fair share of difficulty trying to develop pass rushers over the last few years. However, Watt’s NFL debut may be a glimmer of hope that the Steelers’ pass-rushing unit is turning a corner.

A Bouncing Badger

The Pewaukee, Wisconsin native did not have a hard time picking the right college. He played at the University of Wisconsin, the same school his brothers, J.J. and Derek attended. Though he did not start in his first two years at Wisconsin, the one-time tight end eventually converted to linebacker and never looked back.

Watt accumulated 71 tackles, and interception return for a touchdown, and in his junior year, tallied all of his 11.5 career sacks.

Seen as a raw talent for his limited play time and small stat line, Watt left Wisconsin after his junior year and entered the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Draft

On April 27, 2017, as the first-round was closing down, the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock. Fans were hoping for more help in the secondary and waited for a cornerback’s name to be called.

Instead, the Steelers drafted a linebacker for the fourth time in the last five years. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones never lived up to his first-round status, Ryan Shazier has been dominant, when he is on the field, Bud Dupree has shown signs of promise, and now T.J. Watt has been added to the mix.

Until Friday night, Steeler Nation may have been hesitant to warm up to the youngest Watt, but he is off to a quick start of reinforcing the linebacking corps.

His Future

Watt will certainly be getting more time on the field as the preseason progresses, but if his debut showed anything, it’s that he is eager to earn a starting role.

While he may have to rotate with James Harrison and Bud Dupree for the foreseeable future, the time will come where Watt will be an anchor at the outside linebacker position.

Soak it in, Pittsburgh. We could very well be witnessing a defensive rebirth of right in front of us. This defense, once viewed as “Swiss cheese” for quarterbacks, is slowly but surely becoming a force to be reckoned with.

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Author Details
My name is Garrett Behanna. Currently, I am majoring in broadcast reporting at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh. My first real memory of sports greatly impacting my life was when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Since then, I have surrounded myself with nothing but Pittsburgh sports. In June of 2016, I was approached to write for Pensburgh, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog that is affiliated with SB Nation. Now, I am proudly sharing my Steeler pride with the Armchair All-Americans! If you want to check out my social media ramblings, I can be found on Twitter with my username being @GBehanna.
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My name is Garrett Behanna. Currently, I am majoring in broadcast reporting at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh. My first real memory of sports greatly impacting my life was when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Since then, I have surrounded myself with nothing but Pittsburgh sports. In June of 2016, I was approached to write for Pensburgh, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog that is affiliated with SB Nation. Now, I am proudly sharing my Steeler pride with the Armchair All-Americans! If you want to check out my social media ramblings, I can be found on Twitter with my username being @GBehanna.
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