NFL

Steelers exercise two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Watt’s fifth-year option

By Sports Desk April 28, 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers exercised TJ Watt’s fifth-year option on Tuesday, an expected move after the outside linebacker emerged as one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

Following a breakthrough 2018 season in which he racked up 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 21 quarterback hits to earn his first of two straight trips to the Pro Bowl, the 25-year-old Watt was even better last season.

The 30th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Watt ranked in the top five in the NFL across a host of categories in the 2019 campaign, including sacks, where he tied for fourth with 14.5, and forced fumbles, tying for first with eight. He tied for second in fumble recoveries with four, and was third for quarterback hits with 36.

Now he is staying with the team through the 2021 season, the Steelers announced.

Watt was the first player to rank in the top five in those four categories since his brother, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt in 2014 – the year he earned his second AP Defensive Player of the Year Award.

TJ Watt, who was named a first-team All Pro in 2019, was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season.

"It's just working hard and getting more and more experience," Watt said in a statement.

"This was my second year playing the left side. I am just growing and learning how I can approach the game better, find out what works better for me as far as film study, practice and preparation.

"Hopefully I can keep taking those jumps as I progress in my career."

Related items

  • 49ers rule out Kittle for second successive game 49ers rule out Kittle for second successive game

    San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle will miss his second successive game because of a knee injury.

    Kittle missed out on the Niners' 31-13 win over the New York Jets in Week 2 and will not feature in Week 3 as they return to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Giants.

    The All-Pro suffered a knee sprain and bone bruise in the Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

    He had been considered a game-time decision for the Giants clash, however, coach Kyle Shanahan elected to leave Kittle out after a discussion ahead of Friday's practice in West Virginia, where the 49ers have based themselves for the successive New York trips.

    "We thought it was a lot safer to rule him out," Shanahan said in a media conference.

    The 49ers are still favoured to beat the 0-2 Giants and will have to do so with backup quarterback Nick Mullens playing under center.

    Mullens will start in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in a win over the Jets that also saw them lose defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to torn anterior cruciate ligaments, while running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman sustained knee injuries of their own.

    Kittle broke out in the 2018 season as he set the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single campaign, with 1,377 in a year in which Mullens played eight games due to a torn ACL suffered by Garoppolo.

    He posted 1,053 yards in 14 regular-season games last season. Jordan Reed, who scored two touchdowns against the Jets, is again likely to see a heavy workload in Kittle's absence.

  • Garoppolo out for Week 3, Mullens to start for 49ers v Giants Garoppolo out for Week 3, Mullens to start for 49ers v Giants

    Jimmy Garoppolo will miss the San Francisco 49ers' clash with the New York Giants on Sunday because of a right high ankle sprain, with Nick Mullens starting in his place at quarterback.

    Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Mullens would play in an interview with KNBR on Friday.

    Garoppolo was one of a host of 49ers to sustain injuries in their Week 2 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, where the Niners will face the 0-2 Giants.

    Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were each lost for the year to torn anterior cruciate ligaments while running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman sustained knee injuries that will keep them out against the Giants.

    Star tight end George Kittle, who suffered a sprained knee and a bone bruise in the Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, will play only if there is no hesitation from himself or the team's medical staff, Shanahan said.

    Garoppolo completed 14 of his 16 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against the Jets before Mullens replaced him in the second half.

    An undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi, Mullens started eight games of a 2018 season that saw Garoppolo tear his ACL in Week 3.

    Mullens went 3-5 as a starter, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,277 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

     

  • Stats Perform's NFL Friday Facts: MVPs Mahomes and Jackson do battle on MNF Stats Perform's NFL Friday Facts: MVPs Mahomes and Jackson do battle on MNF

    Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson will do battle on Monday Night Football in Week 3 as the Kansas City Chiefs face the Baltimore Ravens.

    Mahomes, the Super Bowl LIV MVP and 2018 season NFL MVP, and fellow quarterback Jackson, the 2019 season's NFL MVP, will hope to get the W that moves their team to 3-0.

    That clash, one of a number of enticing Week 3 matchups, will provide an early indication of which franchise might be in the best shape to be the AFC's Super Bowl LV representative too.

    Here, using Stats Perform data, we break down that game and the other top Week 3 showdowns.

     

    FEATURE GAME

    Chiefs at Ravens - Monday, 8.15pm (All times Eastern)

    - There have been 13 games featuring the reigning and previous NFL MVPs starting against each other at the quarterback position (including playoffs). The reigning MVP has led his team to victory in eight of the last 10 such matchups, and is 8-5 overall.

    - Mahomes hooked up with Tyreek Hill for a 54-yard touchdown in the win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2. That was Mahomes' 11th career touchdown pass of 50-plus yards (most in the NFL since 2018). The Ravens as a team have only had nine such touchdowns since 2015, four coming from the arm of Jackson.

    - The Chiefs are 6-3 against the Ravens, including wins in each of the three most recent matchups and they have a 4-1 record in Baltimore.

    OTHER KEY GAMES

    Texans at Steelers - Sunday, 1pm

    - The Steelers are 2-0 for the seventh time since 2000. They made the playoffs in each of the previous six seasons, reaching three Super Bowls and winning two titles. Pittsburgh's last 3-0 start was in 2010, when the Steelers made their last trip to the Super Bowl.

    Raiders at Patriots - Sunday, 1pm

    - New England are tied for ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (142.0) and are eighth in passing offense (268.5 yards per game). They are one of three teams in the league's top 10 in both categories, joining the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams. In Sunday's loss at the Seattle Seahawks, Cam Newton passed for 397 yards, including 312 in the second half.

    Rams at Bills - Sunday, 1pm

    - Buffalo are attempting to start 3-0 for a second straight season, a feat they have accomplished only twice previously in franchise history (1964-65, 1991-92). The Bills have won 10 straight games since December 2018 when scoring 20 or more points, the longest active streak in the NFL. 

    Cowboys at Seahawks - Sunday, 4.15pm 

    - Dak Prescott enters this weekend with 99 career touchdown passes in 66 career games. With another touchdown pass on Sunday, Prescott would be the fastest Cowboy to reach 100 TD passes – Tony Romo currently holds the record at 79 games.

    Packers at Saints - Sunday, 8.20pm

    - Since 2018, Davante Adams - who could miss this game through injury - has accounted for 27.8 per cent of Green Bay's receiving yards, the fifth-highest mark in the NFL. The player with the highest percentage during this span is Saints star Michael Thomas (34.5 per cent), who is out this week with an ankle injury.

    ELSEWHERE...

    Titans at Vikings - Sunday, 1pm

    - Ryan Tannehill threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions in the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, extending his streak of regular season games with multiple touchdown passes to a franchise-record nine games. Tannehill has a 118.1 passer rating since joining Tennessee in 2019, the best mark in the NFL over that span (minimum 250 attempts).

    Buccaneers at Broncos - Sunday, 4.25pm

    - Melvin Gordon has tallied 148 rushing yards on 34 attempts this season, 124 more than the Broncos' next-leading rusher (Phillip Lindsay, 24). Gordon also has five receptions and has accounted for 41.9 per cent of the Broncos' touches this season, fifth highest in the NFL.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.