With the return of J.J. Watt to the Houston Texans, it comes at the right time with the team entering the playoffs. Watt has been working to get back to the field, and in some small medical miracle, Watt has defied the recovery odds and is now back and preparing to play in the first playoff game.
Now with Watt on the practice field, here are some need to knows about his return to the Texans.
What You Need to Know About J.J. Watt's Return
Feeling Better Than Expected
A few days after his surgery, Watt felt better than usual and asked the team doctors if he should feel that good after surgery. That opened the door for the possibility of the return. It was a day-by-day process for Watt to return, and they kept working to see where it took them.
The Goal is The Playoffs
By league rule, Watt has to miss eight games due to being placed on the injured reserve. The eighth game in week 17 vs. the Tennessee Titans, but the goal has been the playoffs. The return of Watt will come in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Leaning on Familiar Faces
Watt talked to both Whitney Mercilus and former Christian Covington, who both tore their pectoral in their career. He wanted to know what to expect from the injury in terms of the surgery, recovery, and anything else he needed to know
Working For Weeks Before Being Designated
Watt had been working with the medical staff away from the team for the past few weeks. Working drills and other football activities away from the team to get a good look to see how he felt and give the medical team a better look if they would clear his return. His conditioning is further along than most would expect, but he has been ramping up activities even before his first practice on Tuesday.
Watt Will Wear a Harness
He will continue to wear his customary brace on his left arm for his elbow, but he will be sporting a black harness right above it for better stabilization of his arm. The harness will prevent his arm from being pushed too far back, but he will have the full range of motion forward and up. His mobility for his arm is essential due to Watt using rip and swims moves to execute his pass-rushing moves on game day.
Watt Kept His Return Quiet
With him working behind the scenes, Watt kept his return quiet from his teammates. Especially during the early portions of recovery when he figured there was a chance for his return. When signals of his return were clearing up, Whitney Mercilus noticed Watt was getting close, while D.J. Reader also said it would be great to get him back in the team. The most significant indication of Watt's return as head coach Bill O'Brien not shutting down the idea of his return but deflecting on not wanting to discuss the situation.
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Able to Stay Active
Unlike his back and tibial plateau injury, Watt has been able to stay running and keep his cardio up with the pectoral injury. That has helped Watt stay mentally dialed in and keep him in shape for the most part throughout the rehab process.
Doubtful For a Full Game
Even with the miraculous recovery, Watt doesn't think that it would be in the best interest for him to play every down when he returns. Over the next couple weeks, Watt will gauge with coaches and the medical team on how much he can handle, but it is doubtful it will be a full game of snaps when he returns.
The Risk Is Worth it For Watt
Understanding there is a risk, Watt knows it his pectoral will hold up, or it won't. It if the pectoral doesn't hold up, he will have surgery again and make a recovery for three-months to get ready for the 2020 season.
He also feels that his strength is where it needs to be due to the metrics that he hit. There were goals that the rehab team put in front of him each step along the way, and Watt would hit them, and then they would progress to the next level.
Couldn't Pass Up Helping in the Playoffs
Watt wanted to return for his teammates, and in O'Brien fashion, he said it is about the team. With the Texans in the playoffs, Watt wanted to come back and help the defense for the most critical game of the season. It was not a difficult decision for Watt to return to help the Texans.
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