Browns Rookie Tackle Exposes T.J. Wattʻs Flaw Ahead of Steelers Matchup

Dawand Jones of the Cleveland Browns will be matched up with Steelers star pass-rusher TJ Watt for his first start.

Getty Images Dawand Jones of the Cleveland Browns will be matched up with Steelers star pass-rusher TJ Watt for his first start.

Dawand Jones’ first NFL start with the Cleveland Browns comes with the tall task of slowing down Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt.

The Browns and Steelers are set to clash on Monday Night Football and Jones will be in the spotlight as he looks to slow down Watt, who has done a number against Cleveland in their matchups. Watt has 15 sacks in 10 games against the Browns in his career.

However, Jones has a point of weakness he’d like to attack, which he pointed out when asked how he would count Watt’s quickness.

“Using my length. He kind of leaves his chest open a little bit during the pass game,” Jones said on September 14. “Using that. There are other things to it. Making sure I get back. He’s a great player.”

Jones did make sure to note multiple times that Watt is a great player, which is clear from his resume which includes four All-Pro selections, five Pro Bowls and a Defensive Player of the Year nod.

“I’ve been watching film nonstop. Had to be on top of it for sure this week. Knowing he has so many moves in his arsenal,” Jones said. “He just does not quit. He has a motor of like of nonstop moves. My major thing is that I need to limit him to some of them, use my length and my strength to by best ability.”

It could be a “welcome to the NFL” type of game for the rookie. Or perhaps Jones’ stock will continue to rise with a big performance against a superstar opponent.

Dawand Jones Credits Browns Defense for Development

Jones is an absolute monster at 6-foot-8 and 375 pounds and has proven early on that he has more than just size. Jones — a fourth-round pick — played a hefty amount of snaps in the preseason but also has had the opportunity to work against some premium pass-rushers in practice.

“I credit the defense. They’re the guys I go against every day,” Jones said. “Whether if I am a two or one. You go against them at some point. When I was with the twos for a little bit, I was going against Myles (Garrett) and Za’Darius (Smith). So that was really helping a lot, even Ogbo (Okoronkwo), he’s a great speed rusher.”

Jones also credited veteran Jack Conklin, who he is filling in for. Conklin tore his ACL and MCL in the first half of the opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and will miss the rest of the season.

“Jack has a mean punch and even going to individual drills and me just being a dummy for him. You just learn how strong his punch is,” Jones said. “Honestly, Jack is just a great worker. He comes in every day and just does what he needs to do. I learned that from him. Just making sure I get those extra reps, extra set, definitely a lot. I appreciate Jack for that.”

Browns Won’t Leave Dawand Jones on an Island

The Browns have confidence in Jones but will be providing some help with Watt on the opposite side of him.

“What a matchup he gets right first draw out as a starter,” Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said on September 15. “But the guy has played a lot of football at a high level, at a quality school, and played in big games before. We got to make sure we’re not just leaving them out on an island. We’ll take care of him.”

Another thing working in Jones’ favor is the mobility of quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has the ability to escape tacklers in the backfield and does some of his best work when he’s on the move, improvising. There’s a chance he’ll have to do that against the Steelers.

While Pittsburgh disappointed in their Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers — falling 30-7 — Watt still managed three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.

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