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Derek Watt has older brother J.J. Watt beat at one thing -- catching passes

SAN DIEGO -- When your older brother is the NFL's three-time Defensive Player of the Year, it's tough to say you're better than him at anything.

However, San Diego Chargers rookie fullback Derek Watt is confident enough to say he's better than older brother J.J. Watt at one thing -- catching the football.

Keep in mind, J.J. Watt already has six career touchdowns, including three lining up as a tight end for the Houston Texans.

Still, one of the attractions for San Diego in selecting the 6-foot-2, 234-pound Derek Watt out of the University of Wisconsin was his natural ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

"I've got the better hands," he said, smiling. "He's got the big hands, and he can do some things. He's obviously played some tight end and had those opportunities. But hopefully I can show I have some hands as well."

Derek, 23, is the middle brother, four years younger than J.J. The youngest brother, T.J., will be a sophomore tight end at Wisconsin next season.

The Watt brothers train back home in Wisconsin during the offseason.

"It's great," Derek Watt said. "We grew up real close, all three of us, as brothers. Everything was a competition, so we always pushed each other. More recently, in the offseason we've been training together, competing and pushing each other."

Watt did say that his older brother offered a few words of wisdom to follow when he reported for offseason work in May.

"He just told me to get there, work hard, keep my mouth shut and let your stuff on the field do the talking," Watt said. "Open eyes, open ears and take in as much as possible, and just do whatever they ask you to do."

Watt developed reliable hands as a pass-catcher through constant repetition at Wisconsin, working as both a running back and tight end, running routes with quarterbacks three times a week and routinely catching passes from a JUGS machine.

"I take pride in trying to catch the ball out of the backfield and be more versatile, rather than just a blocker," Watt said. "More so my senior year, I'd flex out and be the wide receiver. I caught a handful of balls split out this season, so I'm comfortable out there."

And while clearing running lanes as a blocker for former Wisconsin teammate Melvin Gordon will be Watt's priority, he know that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers likes to complete passes to running backs out of the backfield.

"What we're doing on offense fits me pretty well," Watt said. "They kind of move me around a little. We definitely like to shift and motion to get us in different places and get the defense guessing a little. We're doing some things that I definitely did in college, so I think it will be good."