Now that Deshaun Watson is eight months removed from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, everyone — especially fans in Houston — expects the Texans quarterback to contend for comeback player of the year and MVP honors. Is it asking too much from a quarterback who has played only seven career games?
“It’s no pressure,” Watson said in a phone interview Thursday after participating in the 14th annual Gatorade Beat the Heat program, teaching young athletes at a YMCA of Greater Houston Camp proper hydration and heat safety.
“I know who I am and what I can do. Pressure is trying to focus on what other people think I can do. I already know what I can do.”
The rest of the NFL learned what he can do last season when the first-round draft pick threw 19 touchdown passes, an NFL record for a quarterback in his first seven games. The Texans averaged 40.5 points per game in his six starts.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman paid him the ultimate compliment, telling Watson he “played the best game any quarterback has ever played against us.”
“It’s very motivating, very aspiring to have the knowledge of me being able to be successful so young and have players go out of their way to talk about me,” Watson said. “I respect everyone that mentioned my name and said good things about me. I appreciate it.”
Watson, though, expects to be even better in his second season despite defensive coordinators having more tape on him than they did a year ago.
“They adjust to me; I adjust to them,” Watson said. “They’re watching film on me; I’m watching film on them. It’s a chess match. Whoever’s better on that Sunday is going to win the game. I have to stay in my lane and focus on what I have to do and listen to what the coaches are telling me to do. They’re going to make sure I’m prepared on game day.”
Now that players are done with their offseason work, Watson and his receivers will get away to throw together before training camp begins. His rehab will continue, too.
Watson can’t put a percentage on where his knee is, but he repeatedly said, “It feels good.” He has shed a knee brace, a noteworthy rehab milestone considering he was injured during a November 2 practice. Watson went without the brace for the Texans’ three-day minicamp this week.
“It’s really just a mindset, just having the confidence that I’m going to be just fine and having that faith,” said Watson, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in 2014 while at Clemson. “I’ve been through it before, so I kind of had a familiarity with the process and what it takes.”