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Steelers get four sacks from T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree following swap of positions

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Cleveland Browns gets hit by T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree combined for 15 tackles and four sacks in last week’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns.

While this is the second year Watt and Dupree have played together in Pittsburgh, it’s their first season in their current roles. According to Will Graves of the Associated Press, Watt and Dupree flipped sides this offseason as the Steelers tried to optimize the production of the two players.

Watt, who spent his rookie season at right outside linebacker, has been moved to the left side of the Pittsburgh defense with Dupree taking over the pass rushing role on the right side of the front. Watt sacked Tyrod Taylor three times in the 21-21 tie. Dupree managed to drop him once.

“We did a lot of stuff to maximize our potential and opportunities outside and we still had more opportunities to make more sacks we didn’t capitalize on,” Dupree said. “It should have been more than that.”

The move is intended to maximize the skill sets of both players. Watt can be more physical and handle blockers better on the side of the formation more likely to draw tight ends on the line of scrimmage while Dupree can be utilized in a more pass rush focused position.

The first act of the new alignment proved successful for both parties.

“I’m way more comfortable (on the left),” Watt said. “I feel like I can bend more. I’m a stronger player. I can see the quarterback. I can see his eyes. I know what he’s thinking better. I’m a very instinctual player. It allows me to see and read the play better.”