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Steelers' T.J. Watt named top edge-rusher for 2022 NFL season

Yardbarker
Yardbarker
 2022-08-10
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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt has a chance to make history this season. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro edge-rusher and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt will likely pursue history during the 2022 NFL season as long as he remains healthy throughout the fall.

Watt ended last campaign tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan for the most sacks recorded by a player in a single season with 22.5, and the 27-year-old reached that mark while featuring in 15 of a possible 17 games. As NFL senior researcher Jack Andrade explained in late June, Watt could become the first player to ever lead the league in sacks for three consecutive seasons if he breaks the record he now shares with Strahan.

Some, thus, were understandably surprised to learn last month that EA Sports listed Cleveland Browns All-Pro Myles Garrett but not Watt at 99 overall, the company's highest rating for a player, in "Madden 23." Three-time Super Bowl champion and current NFL Network personality Willie McGinest went a different route for a piece published by the league's website on Wednesday afternoon and ranked Watt at No. 1 ahead of Garrett and all other available options among his top-10 edge-rushers heading into the upcoming season.

"Watt has recorded the third-most sacks in a player's first five seasons in NFL history with 72 — trailing only J.J. Watt (74.5) and Hall of Famer Reggie White (81)," McGinest noted. "He's extremely explosive and his relentless motor is unmatched, making him the best defensive player on the field more often than not."

The Steelers are reportedly on track to start free-agent signing Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback over career backup Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett for at least Week 1 next month. Unless Trubisky surprisingly becomes a revelation, Watt may have to perform like a Most Valuable Player candidate for Pittsburgh to even compete for a playoff spot in early January.

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