T.J. Watt sat in front of a bunch of discarded black-and-gold shoulder pads as reporters continued to crowd his spot in the visitor’s locker room at First Energy Stadium.
Watt, the Steelers’ first-round pick last April, was Mr. Popular after an impressive debut that included two sacks and an interception. The Steelers defeated the Browns 21-18 on Sunday, and the defense flashed with seven sacks of Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.
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So Blitzburgh is back, right? Not if you ask Watt. He sat with a cut-off Steelers shirt, arms crossed, fluctuating between a playful and serious tone. If the reporters eat this up, then how do you think the diehard Steelers fans feel about now?
Other players besides Berry possibly could make the play he did to stop Mike Gillislee on fourth-and-one after the Rob Gronkowski touchdown was overturned on replay in the first quarter. Someone else could make that kind of play, that can wrench momentum in the other direction and light a badly-needed fire under the rest of the team. Maybe. The Chiefs have playmakers on defense. But none exactly like him.
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Presuming he’ll be around the team, his inspirational nature will help the Chiefs keep their heads up. Reid said he told Berry he can get started on his coaching career now.” His return from Hodgkin’s lymphoma is well-known and recognized. He brings that and more to everything he does around the team. But they’ll miss him badly on the field. Yes, that’s almost too obvious to repeat, but it can’t be emphasized enough.
The whole AFC landscape had changed for a few hours Thursday. It changed again Friday, even as inevitable as the news was. The Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Broncos and the other hopeful contenders saw an unforeseen obstacle. How much of that obstacle is still in place is now a wild guess, at least until the Chiefs’ next game.