Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, NFL

Texans’ Watt in line to return for playoffs

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 12/30/19

Heading into Saturday’s AFC wild card playoff game against Buffalo, the Texans were cautiously optimistic about the possible return of star defensive end J.J. Watt.

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Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, NFL

Texans’ Watt in line to return for playoffs

Posted

Heading into Saturday’s AFC wild card playoff game against Buffalo, the Texans were cautiously optimistic about the possible return of star defensive end J.J. Watt.

Watt returned to practice early last week after missing the previous two months with a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery. It is an injury that generally requires 3-4 months of recovery before a player returns.

Watt said last week during a press conference that the plan is to play against Buffalo. He suffered the injury during a Week 8 win against the Raiders on Oct. 27. The Texans have gone 5-3 without him, but have allowed 60 more rushing yards per game in his absence.

“I mean, obviously, that’s the plan, that’s the goal,” Watt said. “The plan is for the first playoff game.”

Watt returned to practice Dec. 24. He said it was an easier injury to deal with than previous ones to his back and leg. He has been able to run and lift weights with his legs as his shoulder heals.

“I feel extremely excited about being able to be back on the practice field with the guys,” Watt said. “The medical team here has done a great job. There’s obviously an element of risk involved that I understand and we understand, but to me, the opportunity to play in the playoffs, the opportunity to try and help this team win football games, there’s nothing that I want more. I just want to be on the field with the guys and I feel really good. We’ve worked extremely hard at rehab, we’ve had a very smooth process and everything has been going extremely well. So I’m really, really excited to get back on the field with everybody and to be back out there helping my team and playing for this city.”

Texans coach Bill O’Brien said since Watt was cleared to return to practice, everything from here on out is “football-related.” There is no telling how much of an impact Watt will have or how much he will be able to play.

O’Brien said Watt started with individual work at practice and then progressed to regular practice reps as the week went on. More will be determined this week.

For now, just him being back on the field has been uplifting.

“I mean, it’s dope but it doesn’t catch me by surprise, because that’s the type of person he is, to do whatever he can to help this football team and get back out there with his brothers,” quarterback Deshaun Watson said. “I know at the early (part) of the rehab and surgery, it was definitely a thought that he probably wouldn’t be able to play the rest of this year, but I guarantee whenever he had his surgery and the doctors told him he had a chance and gave him a timeline, if he did everything right, that he was going to do that. You could see it.

“He was in here every day with us, still in the meeting rooms, still rehabbing, working out, still around the locker room. So it was definitely passionate and very strict priority for him to be able to get back out there.”

In eight games this season, Watt has 24 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, four tackles for a loss, 20 quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

“Obviously when I got hurt, I just assumed I was done,” Watt said. “I didn’t even know that there was a possibility, and then literally a couple of days after the surgery I was feeling so good that I just started asking questions. I said, ‘Is it remotely possible?’ We left the door open for a possibility, and from there it was just literally day-by-day, just work, doing whatever I could do and we arrived to here.

“And like I said, I wouldn’t call it a difficult decision, no. I mean, I get a chance to play in the playoffs with my team and go out there and try and help us win football games. So, to me, that’ll never be a difficult decision.”

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