PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their biggest star as T.J. Watt will possibly miss the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. His replacement joined the team just days before the regular season and is now being thrust into a starting role at outside linebacker.
Malik Reed isn’t new to the starting job. During his three years with the Denver Broncos, he played in 46 games and started 34 of them. And in just his second with the Steelers, he’s ready to take on a major role.
“It’s always tough,” Reed said on Watt’s injury. “You never want to see a guy, especially of his caliber, who’s been a Defensive Player of the Year, a great player year in and year out, go down that way.
“I’ve had a lot of snaps in the league, and I think God has ordered those steps in that way to be prepared for a moment like this, so when a guy does go down, you’re prepared to go in and keep it rolling.”
Replacing Watt will be nearly impossible, but something the Steelers’ defense will need to do. The newly-acquired linebacker is going to fill the shoes, with Jamir Jones playing behind him and possible practice squad call-ups in Delonte Scott and Chapelle Russell taking on bigger roles.
Finding a way to replicate Defensive Player of the Year and 22.5 sacks may be impossible. Reed will step in as the team’s starter with an impressive 13 sacks over the last two years. And he expects himself and the linebacker group to be ready.
“It’s tough,” Reed said on replacing Watt. “He’s a great player. Defensive Player of the Year. Led the league in sacks. It’s hard to replace a guy like that, but I think that we have the guys in the room to make up for what we’ll be missing in him. I’m just excited for the road ahead.”
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