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Facing J.J. Watt Increases Focus On Technique

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Stopping J.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-Pro, is no easy task, but it's making the Redskins' offensive line better.

Competition is a universal theme across all NFL training camps, but there's something about playing against another team's players.

More specifically, on Thursday, the Redskins competed against the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the guy picked No. 1 in this year's "NFL Top 100" as selected by players league-wide: J.J. Watt.

In what was his first competition against NFL players other than his own teammates, rookie offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, tasked with blocking Watt several times from the first-team right guard position, said working against Watt was a significant learning experience.

"He's a technician, he's good with his hands, very fast with his hands, his feet -- you know, he's a good football player," said Scherff, who recently moved over from right tackle to right guard. "He's a hard worker."

Watt last season tied his career-high for sacks with 20.5 to go with 78 tackles, 10 passes defensed and four fumbles forced, numbers at the top of his position in the league.

For his career, Watt, a three-time first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, has accumulated 295 tackles with 57 sacks, 37 passes defensed and 12 fumbles forced.

He nearly won NFL MVP honors last season as well, and had he, it would have been the first time since 1986 that a defensive player took home the most prestigious individual award in the sport.

Even though training camp practices are a controlled setting, the Wisconsin product forces players to "be perfect with your technique."

"[Offensive line] coach [Bill] Callahan teaches technique, it's all about technique and fundamentals," Scherff said. "and you've got to win with your hands and feet, and you have to get them in on him fast."

A player of Watt's caliber makes fellow Pro Bowlers better as well.

The Washington Redskins conducted their seventh training camp practice Thursday, August 6, 2015, at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond Va.

"He's a great player so any rep that anybody gets to go up against him you're going to get the best of the best," said three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. "And that makes you better."

The offense had to keep tabs on Watt throughout the first joint training camp practice between the Texans and Redskins on Thursday in Richmond, Va., as at any given moment he can be in the backfield with the quarterback.

"You can't miss it," said third-year running back Chris Thompson. "He's who he is, and you know what you're going to get out of him. I think our guys did a good job, and, of course, J.J. did his thing too. It's some good work for the guys and for us as a whole offense."

With a young offensive line that currently has a rookie in Scherff and a second-year tackle in Morgan Moses on the right side, Thompson did see progress from both young players throughout the practice session.

"I think with Scherff being a rookie, Morgan coming off his injury, it's good for those guys to get some of this work in right now," Thompson said. "Obviously J.J. Watt is a man, so I think it's good for both of those guys to get this work against him."

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