T.J. Watt is officially done being known as “J.J.’s little brother” now in the NFL.
Watt’s successes this season, in his rookie campaign, for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been noticeable by teams throughout the league.
He’s not as scary on the outside as James Harrison, but he sure packs a mean punch — and by “punch,” I mean tackle.
The Steelers’ first-round draft pick has not only featured in all 14 regular-season games this year, he’s started in them all. He’s even above Harrison on the depth chart.
It’s clear why, too.
Watt is seventh on the team in total tackles, with 44. He has recorded six sacks, and caught his first career interception against fellow rookie DeShone Kizer of the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.
Should Watt record three more sacks in upcoming games against the Houston Texans — and game which he’ll feature against his brother’s team, but with no J.J. due to a season-ending injury — and Cleveland Browns, he’ll tie Kendrell Bell’s 2001 record for most sacks by a rookie.
There’s a good chance, against quarterbacks Tom Savage/T.J. Yates and Kizer, that Watt can reach that goal — and even surpass it.
However, Watt was snubbed for the Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Up for the award are Marshon Lattimore (New Orleans Saints), Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs), Keelan Cole (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tre’Davious White (Buffalo Bills) and Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers).
According to Sports Illustrated, many are suspecting cornerback Lattimore — who has started in 11 games for the Saints, recorded 44 tackles, four interceptions and zero sacks — to claim the award.
However, it’s mind-boggling to why Watt wasn’t even nominated.
Is he still in J.J.’s shadow? If he is, members of the NFL community need to wake up. For the Steelers, being in J.J.’s shadow, someone who hasn’t had a healthy season in two years, is the road worth avoiding.
Steelers fans can only hope that Watt remains consistent with the team clinching a playoff spot.
He will certainly be tested in the playoffs, especially if the Steelers need to feature against the Patriots again, but this time at Gillette Stadium.
The Steelers will travel down south to face the Texans on Christmas day, at 4:25 p.m. The team then closes out the regular season at Heinz Field, hosting the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m.
We’re sure that Watt will look forward to seeing his friend Kizer again.
Follow @RachaelMcKriger on Twitter for all Steelers and Riverhounds coverage.