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Tenacious Steelers DT Vows to Bring Pass Rush Juice



Steelers Watts Adams
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Armon Watts at training camp, Aug. 4, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pass rushing is an art, and the Steelers are pretty good at that art; with proven sack makers in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith on the edge and Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi on the interior, the team has an idea of what to do with their pass rushers. But the depth of the interior had questions on who could step up if there was an injury to produce sacks. Only one player stuck out as someone who has proven to do it in the past — Armon Watts.

“You don’t have to be smart to knock somebody out,” Watts said.

Working with a coach like Karl Dunbar can reveal a pass rusher’s DNA. With his proven two-handed swipe that Watts loves to use, he proved he could get after it in the preseason. However, Dunbar knows what he wants out of each player, and each player embraces those niches. Watts knew his niche was in the pass rush department.

“He’s real transparent about what he wants to see out of his guys,” Watts said. “Of course, you know, we’ve got some great vets in the room.”

With a lack of proven pass-rush production elsewhere on the depth chart, it was nice to see him make this initial list. The fifth-year defensive end has quietly had a lovely summer that concluded with a solid preseason showing. Even though he couldn’t secure a sack, he registered five pressures and three hits on the quarterback. Watts wins with quick, precise hand usage and is just a few years removed from a five-sack campaign.

Pittsburgh acknowledged they had more quality defensive linemen than they could keep, which meant Breiden Fehoko was the man left out. As more of a traditional gap-plugging nose tackle, Fehoko doesn’t offer much value in neutral or passing-down situations. With Larry Ogunjobi’s health a question mark moving forward, it makes sense for the Steelers to prioritize keeping a guy like Watts around who could hypothetically help fill that void in the event of an injury. Even in a crowded defensive line room, Watts has a valuable skill set that can help this defense in 2023.