The Texans are optimistic that defensive end J.J. Watt could return to the field for the playoffs, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Watt tore his pectoral muscle against the Raiders on Oct. 27, and subsequently tweeted he was "gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys." But it appears as though Watt's rehab timeline could be accelerated to have the three-time Defensive Player of the Year ready for January.

Houston has left its last injured reserve/designated to return spot open for Watt as they hope for a return to the field. The Texans activated TE Jordan Thomas from the IR on Nov. 21, opening a spot for Watt.

Watt tallied 20 QB hits and four sacks in his first eight games of 2019. His 96 career sacks ranks fourth among active players.

The Texans lead the AFC South at 7–4. They host the Patriots on Sunday night, with kickoff from NRG Stadium in Houston slated for 8:20 p.m. ET.