In some superhuman form, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has defied the odds and returned to the practice field after injuring his pectoral in week eight against the Oakland Raiders.
Rumors have been swirling on the possible return of Watt, especially the past couple of weeks, and now everything has come true with the Texans heading to the playoffs.
We take a look at the timeline of Watt's injury and return to the Texans at the right time of the season.
The J.J. Watt Timeline
In the second quarter of the Texans game against the Oakland Raiders, Watt sliced through the offensive line to make a six-yard tackle for loss on running back Josh Jacobs.
After the play, Watt was rotating his left arm figuring out what the issue was and he soon left the game and did not return.
The Texans labeled the injury as a "shoulder" injury but soon word spread that is was a pectoral injury which would more than likely end his season.
Head coach Bill O'Brien after the game quickly discussed the Watt injury situation.
"We took him to the hospital right away for an MRI," O'Brien said of the Watt injury. "I'm sure I'll hear something tonight here pretty soon and then be able to update you tomorrow."
"He's a great football player," O'Brien continued on Watt. "He's an even better guy. Unfortunately, we've been in this position before, and I think we've got some guys here a lot of different guys. It might not be one guy that takes his place if that's the case, but, you know, certainly will miss him. I mean, that's obvious."
Watt later that night did not wait for the word to spread and on twitter announced on twitter was most had feared. Saying he was "Absolutely gutted" that he would not finish the season due to his injury.
In normal NFL fashion, NFL Network breaks that Watt will need surgery on his torn pectoral. Ian Rapoport also reports that Watt will be ready for the 2020 season for the Texans.
Watt undergoes successful pectoral surgery and says, "Everything went smooth with the surgery, thank you for all of the kind words. If I tweet anything crazy during the Astros game tonight, just blame it on the pain meds."
The Texans place Watt on the injured reserve and sign Briean Boddy-Calhoun the same day to fill his roster in preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When Watt is placed in the injured reserve, he leads the league with 20 quarterback hits through eight games.
With the trade deadline approaching, O'Brien opted to pass finding a pass rusher and discussed how to replace Watt's productivity.
This is where the idea of Watt coming back starts to get legs when NFL Network's Ian Rapoport mentions that the Texans are saving their last "designation to return" from the injured reserve for Watt.
Rapoport adds that the playoffs were a potential target date for a return for Watt.
With the report out about a possible return for Watt. During the Texans Sunday night game against the New England Patriots, Watt took the time to talk to Michele Tafoya about his rehab in pregame warmups.
"I do what the doctor tells me," Watt said with a smile. "I'll say that. I do what the doctor tells me. We've always been wanting to make sure we do everything we possibly can to get back out there with the guys. And if the doctor gives me the green light at some point here in the near future, I will take the green light gladly and get back out there with my guys. Because there's nothing more that I want to do with them be on the field, my guys in front of these fans."
That night after the Texans' big win, Watt was hanging out the locker room and would not confirm or deny any of the reports about his return.
Just ten days ago, O'Brien was asked about how the rehab process was going for Watt.
"I'm going to tell you that JJ is working very, very hard," O'Brien explained. "And he has certainly made progress based solely on his work ethic and who he's working within the training room. And we'll see how it goes."
Watt's good friend and locker neighbor, D.J. Reader, was asked on his thoughts on Good Morning Football on the return of Watt.
"You going to see an animal back playing," Reader said of Watt. "You going to see a guy, just a dude back out there. You know somebody we love. You know we'd love to have back out there. If he gets back out there, it is bad news for everybody else. I'm excited."
On a special edition of Good Morning Football before the Texans game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ian Rapoport once again put a clear time table on the return of Watt in week 17 or the first round of the playoff.
Well, help is on the way for this Texans defense. JJ Watt tweeted a couple of days ago. It's not over, though, the reason why he tweeted that he is, in fact, expected to be back at practice for the Houston Texans. Surely if the playoffs are still in doubt, expect him back week 17 if they clinch the players that they don't need to win next week, then the likely time when JJ Watt will be back in practice is the first week of the playoffs. Remember he's recovering from a torn pec it is going extremely well, expect him back on the field this season for Houston. - Ian Rapoport, NFL Network
The Athletic's Aaron Reiss asked Whitney Mercilus on the potential return of Watt. Mercilus responded, "cranking out some pushups, bouncing around, running, so it’s impressive.”
Head coach Bill O'Brien was asked if he could discuss the possible return of Watt this season but he was not interested in discussing the situation.
"I'm going to pass on that question," O'Brien explained. "I'm not up here to talk about JJ. We'll get to that when we get to that, whether it's this season, the offseason, or whatever."
On Christmas Eve, the Texans designate Watt to return from the injured reserve from his torn pectoral. Watt now has 21-days to be activated from the injured reserve but all signs point to him being ready for the playoff game in the coming weeks.
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