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T.J. Watt: Steelers Need to Live Up to Standard ‘Set Before Me’



Steelers OLB T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt leads the team onto the field against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 26, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt doubled down on his belief that young members of the club need to amplify their practice habits, but said that’s a natural process for the club.

Watt first made the comments in a production meeting with Rich Eisen of NFL Network, who called the game between the Steelers and Indianapolis Colts last Saturday.

Eisen repeated those comments on his show on Tuesday, saying that Watt told him that some players are not responding to Mike Tomlin’s coaching and don’t respond in the proper way on the practice field.

“[Watt said it was] wild that some of them don’t want to practice, is what he said,” Eisen said. “Or want to practice in a way that everyone is supposed to practice.”

It’s been assumed that was referring to some of the team’s younger players that have shown a lack of effort, focus or dedication recently, such as star wide receiver George Pickens.

RELATED: George Pickens to Diontae Johnson: ‘I’ll Block for You Next Time’

Speaking with the Pittsburgh media for the first time this week on Thursday, Watt said that he think that’s a problem for all young players, not that there’s anything specifically wrong with this group of Steelers, and that he himself had difficulty making that adjustment to the NFL.

“I referred to myself when I was a young player, just learning how to practice [and] how to apply yourself on the practice field,” Watt said. “It wasn’t attacking anybody. It was a general statement. As a leader on this team, I feel obligated to show people in my actions how to practice. It was not taking anything away from guys not practicing. So I’m not sure how that happened. It is what it is.”

 Watt is a maniac in the way that he prepares for games, from his incredibly detailed film study habits to the intensity which which he takes to the practice field, but he said his statement wasn’t about getting players to live up to the example that he sets, but to understand that participating in practice and fine-tuning your craft is something that is necessary for all players, even the very best like Watt.

“It’s not my standard, it’s what was set before me,” he said. “It’s about continually getting better. If we’re satisfied with what we’re doing, then we’re wrong. We need to be continually striving.”

Watt isn’t a rah-rah type of leader. He’s one of the quieter members of the Steelers locker room in general. He’s not going to be the one to make an impassioned speech. The way he sees it, the best way he can lead the team’s young players is by showing them the way.

“If I don’t worry about how I’m playing and I try to be somebody I’m not, then I’m not giving fully myself to this team on the football field,” he said. “I’m always leading in different ways. It doesn’t mean you guys always have to see the way that I’m vocally leading.”

The question is whether the team’s young players are watching and learning, or even paying attention.