Collective effort required to contain J.J. Watt


CHARLOTTE – Yes, it's true there is more to the Houston Texans defense than J.J. Watt.

But no one single-handedly impacts a game on a more consistent basis than the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"You just have to put the tape on and watch," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He catches everybody's attention."

"He's just a monster, man," added fullback Mike Tolbert. "He's big, he's strong, he's fast. And he doesn't stop. His tank is always full."

Watt's presence influences the entire game plan. The dominant defensive lineman, who has been known to line up as an end, tackle and stand-up edge rusher, must be accounted for at all times.

"A guy like this is special," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "You have to have a plan for him in different ways.

"It's going to involve all 11 guys and getting the ball out on time – receivers getting open on time and the guys up front protecting, knowing where the help is coming from."

It will be a collective effort to slow down Watt, and it will have to involve constant communication, a strong running game and consistent success on first down. But right tackle Mike Remmers will be the man lined up across from him most often. As a result, he's fielded plenty of questions about one individual.

"None of my teammates have been like, 'Oh, you got Watt this week,'" Remmers said. "It's more media.

"They have a lot of really good defenders," he added. "I feel bad for the other guys on that defense. The other guys don't get talked about at all."

But Remmers understands why Watt dominates the conversation. And as a competitor at the highest level, he embraces the challenge.

"People see him as the best of the best, so I'm looking forward to going out there and seeing what it's like in person," Remmers said. "I'm looking forward to playing him."

Remmers will have help in the form of double-teams, chips, misdirections, rollouts – sometimes all of the above.

And as Shula indicated, the pass catchers also play a role in making sure quarterback Cam Newton is able to deliver the ball accurately from the pocket.

"When the timing is there, it helps out so much," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "When you are late to your spot, when you are doing too much, then you are giving those guys up front an opportunity to get to the quarterback and make plays."

And Watt generally finds a way to make plays. In Houston's season-opening loss to Kansas City, Watt finished with two sacks and six tackles for loss. Last year, he posted 20.5 sacks to match a career best from 2012.

Watt has the ability to wreck a game. But the Panthers will do everything in their power to keep him contained.

And as several Panthers mentioned, he isn't alone. Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing and Co. are playmakers in their own right.

"We can't just make this about J.J. Watt," Newton said. "He's a great player, don't get me wrong. But that (entire) Houston Texans defense is great."

Added Rivera: "We're going to take our best shot. We are going to show up on Sunday. We'll try to do the best we can. We have to figure out ways to help our guys and make sure they understand how to do things. We've got to be technically sound, because if not, they'll exploit you."

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