J.J. Watt has played only eight games the past two seasons combined, making only 1.5 sacks after having 74.5 his first five seasons. He has undergone three surgeries in two years, including two on his back.
Questions abound about whether the three-time defensive player of the year ever returns to what he once was.
“About his stats, people ask me that all the time, and let me tell you, I’d never bet against J.J. Watt,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s one of the best players to play this game. He’s working hard to get back to that level.”
Watt ranked as one of the favorites for the league’s comeback player of the year after he missed 13 games in 2016 because of a second back surgery. He fractured the tibial plateau in his left leg in the fifth game last season.
“J.J. is ahead of schedule in his rehab as far as what he’s able to do,” O’Brien said. “I go by what J.J. tells me, and what I see. He’s very excited. He can’t wait to get back. He can’t wait to get into the training room every day to rehab. He’s one of those guys that can’t wait to get into the locker room every day.
“Him coming back to the defense is big. Him coming back to the team is a big deal. He’s one of the leaders of our team. Being in the locker room, the meeting rooms and on the practice field is such a big deal. He’s great for the younger players. They watch his work ethic. We’re all excited for him to be back in the lineup.”