J.J. Watt told fans how disappointed he was back in October when he tore a pectoral muscle and would miss the rest of the season, but that story could soon be changing for the NFL star.
A report from NFL.com on Sunday said that Watt’s rehab has been going much better than expected, and he could still return to the Houston Texans by the playoffs — or even sooner. Watt was initially placed on injured reserve, but sources told the outlet that the team is saving a designated spot for Watt to potentially return. The Texans had already activated tight end Jordan Thomas from injured reserve, leaving the team one more spot to bring back Watt if he should recover in time.
“There is even a possibility, albeit slim, that Watt, who had four sacks in eight games to go with a whopping 20 QB hits before his injury, could be back for Week 17,” the report noted.
There was no official update from either Watt or the team on his rehab, but the reports have raised hope among Texans fans. Initial projections put his rehab at several months, meaning he would miss the entire season and playoffs.
While there remains the small chance he plays in the regular season, it seems more probable that Watt would be back if the team makes the playoffs, which would likely be in wild card weekend. The Texans are atop the AFC South at 7-4, though they have a difficult remaining schedule that includes a Sunday night matchup against the Patriots this week and two games against the 6-5 Tennessee Titans.
The Texans have struggled on defense without Watt, ranking No. 20 in the league in total yards, giving up 367.3 yards per game.
As Texans Wire noted, Watt also serves as the locker room leader for the Texans, and his return could help more than just on the field.
“If the Texans are able to get back Watt for the playoffs, it would be a big boost for the club emotionally. Houston will need all the help they can get,” the report noted.
The report added that this would be even more true given that the Texans will likely be on the road for any kind of extended playoff run. Though the Texans are leading the division, the chances of catching either the New England Patriots or Baltimore Ravens for one of the top seeds is exceedingly small, and could be down to nothing if the Texans lose to the Patriots on Sunday.