T.J. Watt was just 17 years old when his older brother J.J. Watt intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown against Cincinnati in the 2011 AFC Wild Card Playoff game. T.J. Yates stepped in as a rookie and started five games that year and both of the franchise's first two postseason appearances that year.
On Monday, the Steelers rookie pass rusher will face Yates in the same stadium that has fervently cheered for his older brother for seven NFL seasons. While the Watt won't get to play against his brother J.J., he is excited to take the field with his brother's Texans teammates.
"I grew up watching T.J. Yates back there so it's just crazy that I'm playing the Houston Texans after watching them for so many years with J.J. on the team," T.J. Watt said Wednesday. "It's crazy that I have watched a bunch of these guys and now I'll be sharing the field with them."
Yates will get his second consecutive start when the Texans host the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16. He will face a talented Steelers pass rush that ranks second in the AFC and tied for third in the NFL in sacks (43). Watt has recorded 6.0 sacks, the second-most by a rookie in Steelers franchise history, in addition to six passes defensed, one interception and one forced fumble this season.
"Just watching on film, he's a heck of a player," Yates said. "It's really strange to see how him and J.J.'s body movements – they're like almost the same player out there. Obviously, T.J. is a little smaller but he's very quick and they have a lot of the same traits as far as getting their hands on balls and tipping balls, rushing the passer. He's a great pass rusher. He's got a lot of good stuff on film. We definitely have to be aware of where he is at all times."
The Texans and Steelers will play on Christmas Day a primetime matchup on NBC and NFL Network. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CT and can also be heard on SportsRadio 610.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/16/2021)