Film Room: T.J. Watt Off To Strong Start Before Injury


Pittsburgh Steelers rookie starting outside linebacker T.J. Watt may have been forced to bail out of the second game of his career early due to a groin injury, but he did not do so before making an impact on the game, even when he did not record a statistic.

Early in the game, on the Vikings’ opening offensive possession, Watt was aligned on the heavy side of a two-tight-end set. Dalvin Cook looked to bounce off the left edge…and he did, but only because multiple offensive players held, with Watt being clearly held by the two perimeter tight ends. While this could, and should have, been called, it was Cameron Heyward who ultimately drew the flag on this play.

On the very next play, Watt flipped sides, this time coming off the defensive left side. Getting an angle off right tackle Mike Remmers, he was able to keep his outside arm free and timed a leaping swat perfectly to bat Case Keenum’s pass down at the line of scrimmage. He did this twice in the preseason as well.


Another skill that he showed in the preseason is the capacity to make the most of what the offense gives him, including opportunities in which he is left unguarded. One such instance resulted in himself and Heyward combining for a four-yard loss on a tackle of Cook in the backfield, the pulling guard failing to pick him up.

Early in the second quarter, the rookie really showed well working against the run, facing the playside tight end. After engaging to hold the perimeter, he showed the skill to release as Latavius Murray tried to run inside him, this time pairing with Ryan Shazier for a run stop of no gain on second and one.

Still later in the quarter, Watt was left unblocked on a first-down play just outside the red zone with two tight ends to his side. Without even a chip, and an inside linebacker blitz to occupy the left tackle, the edge defender was unimpeded to the quarterback and pressured him into a rushed throw for an incompletion.

It wasn’t long after that sequence—the defense registering pressure three plays in a row to force three incompletions—that Watt was knocked out of the game with a groin injury while covering a punt. I don’t see anything obvious on that play that would signal an injury, and he didn’t seem to think it was too serious, so hopefully he will be back out there on Sunday.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • CP72

    I’m drinking the Watt Kool-aid….ordered my TJ jersey.

  • VaDave

    Here’s to a speedy recovery.

  • The Tony

    That was an excellent article! I love seeing the tape breakdown. It’s a shame that he got hurt while playing special teams though

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He is just so damn active. You don’t see that with rookies. I was skeptical about him because to come after his brother JJ you better come for real! I’m glad he is not taking anything for granted, because alot of players do.

  • RickM

    He’s far exceeded my expectations in the early going and it’s exciting to think about what his ceiling might be down the road.

  • nutty32

    Vikings OLine prob being chewed out this week; lots of missed assignments in those gifs. Steelers also doing some interesting things with the nose using him as the backside contain; which might be a pass rush stunt. who knows.

  • gdeuce

    he hasn’t even been playing the position that long, which makes his future even more exciting

  • Matthew Marczi

    His immediate playspeed is very uncommon from rookies for sure…at least the ones the Steelers have drafted.

  • CP72

    Yep you don’t have to be talented to get deep into the playbook…you just have to have the work ethic.

  • pittfan

    LMAO the Vikes center on 3rd play!

  • Jimbo

    They hit on watt.. Made roster moves, Obtained Free agents
    .Time to go all the way..Watt is going to be fun to watch..

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I just like that he came in and said this is my job and acted as such from day one and has not given a reason to take him off the field.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I think the Steelers tried to move Bud around. The part I like about Watt’s game is the dude just make plays from multiple positions. Hard for the opposing offense to block or gameplan against a guy that moves around from side to side. I’m glad we have an OLB teams have to fear.

  • MC

    Looking reeeaaall good. Just knows where to be, how to do his job and how to use his length and athleticism to beat people. Meanwhile, Cam is a monster, he’s always in the backfield.
    Is 96 Walton? I see he had a couple a nice plays on Sunday.

  • Jaybird

    I was going to get my kid a JUJU jersey , but I think she’s getting a Watt jersey instead. The dude is the real deal.

  • MC

    What the hell was he doing? looked like madden when linemen run right past their assignment and block nobody.

  • JNick

    Sorry Mr. Harrison, please take a seat.

  • JNick

    Get your kid a Holba jersey

  • Nathanael Dory

    Hes a keeper

  • Brandon Watson

    So I remember last year, maybe 2-years ago, when Walton was a rookie … Debo got a sack to get the D off the field and Walton came up and was doing the meathead helmet slap, and it messed Harrison up. Harrison got fully stood up to move towards thh sidlline, and he was all stumbling and woozy. I figured any man that can slap Debo silly …. he’s got a roster spot. .lol

  • Steeler Nation!

    But he’s talented too. That get off he has is exceptional. Dupree is a specimen, but I don’t think he gets off the ball like Watt. Just gotta hope TJ stays healthy

  • Matt Manzo

    Looked like he went head up with Heyward on that tfl!

  • Jason

    lets keep him off of special teams at this point

  • Steve

    In the 1st Gif, the CB to Watts left needed to come up and he guessed wrong to his left and got caught up in the wash. The 3rd Gif, Jarvis never would have made the stop as Watt did. Jarvis would take too short in the backfield and the back would go around him. Watt did a perfect move and stop the run for a loss. On the 4th Gif Watt stops the outside run and makes the tackle. Watt will be a player to contend with as an OLB with the Steelers. Just what they needed.

  • SilverSteel

    Man, on that first video, look at grave. Wow!!! Exploding in the backfield! We gotta fit this kid in more plays. We need that for the Pats. I hope they increase his reps.

  • Sdale

    Too soon.

  • Dorian James

    IMHO, if he stays healthy he will be their best 1st round defender, and possibly have the best rookie campaign of anyone on our defense

  • MC

    haha I remember that, didn’t know that was Walton.