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How T.J. Watt found his voice with the Steelers

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No longer is Watt the reserved pass-rusher looking to solidify a role. His role is to be heard — with his play, with his work, and with his mouth.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Coming off a 13-sack season and a Pro Bowl, the Steelers expect results in all three areas. In fact, outside linebacker Bud Dupree says Watt has become one of the two primary defensive leaders, alongside captain Cam Heyward.

“Cam has always been a leader, and T.J. is stepping into that role now as well,” Dupree said. “It always has to be more than one leader on the team. T.J. has the personality to be energetic, talkative to the group. He has what it takes to do it. People respect him.”

Watt knows this evolution took time. As a rookie and first-round pick in 2017, Watt admits to mostly staying quiet and doing his job. Dupree said his teammate didn’t open up much to the rest of the group.3

The 24-year-old revealed more of himself in Year 2, and as his sack total grew from seven to 13 — and the post-sack celebrations became more boisterous — so did his presence off the field.

Watt’s work ethic never was questioned. Every summer, he gets after it in his native Wisconsin with a 5,000-calorie-a-day diet and multiple daily training sessions.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

That others noticed gave him an outlet to be himself. This offseason, for example, Watt has been known to initiate personalized handshakes with several teammates before 11-man work, while pumping up the group.

“I feel like I haven’t totally proved myself,” Watt said. “But through what I have done around here, the extra work that everyone sees me put [in], that I can start to get into that leadership role and have a voice on this defense.

“I don’t care what anyone outside of this locker room thinks of me. I care what these guys think about me and I earn that through working hard and they all see that. I think that’s the biggest thing here, having respect. You earn respect through working hard and doing the right things on and off the field.”

The Steelers are reaping the benefits. Dupree said teammates are “seeing how T.J. really is” now, a loyal friend who keeps things loose.

Watt came to Pittsburgh as the younger brother of NFL superstar J.J. Watt, but his family rarely comes up at the facility.

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