If J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney stay healthy this season, the Texans defense should return to being a dominant unit. Houston dropped from No. 1 overall in total defense in 2016 to 20th last year.
Watt has played only eight games combined the past two seasons, making 1.5 sacks.
Watt’s 2017 season ended with a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg during the fifth game. Early in the offseason program, Texans coach Bill O’Brien was cautious when discussing Watt’s rehab.
O’Brien, though, has seen enough from Watt to feel good about where the defensive end is now.
“I feel good about J.J. because J.J. feels good about J.J.,” O’Brien said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s in a good place. He’s been here every day. He’s very positive about where he is from a rehab standpoint.
“He’s committed to the cause of what we’re trying to do.”
Clowney played all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017 but underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. He missed the Pro Bowl and didn’t participate in team drills during the offseason program.
Clowney, though, expects to be healthy for the start of training camp, and the Texans expect to have him on the field despite the lack of contract talks.
Clowney, the first overall pick in 2014, will make $12.3 million this year under the fifth-year option.
“He and I have had a number of conversations,” O’Brien said. “He’s guaranteed me he’ll be ready to go on July 25.”
Then the question becomes can Watt and Clowney stay on the field?