Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wasn’t his dominant self during Houston’s 23-14 Week 1 win against the Chicago Bears. But after missing all of training camp and preseason, who could expected the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year to start 2016 off with a bang?
Watt finished with a meager one tackle on Sunday, but Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is encouraged with what he saw from his best player.
“Yeah, he feels great,” O’Brien said Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle. “It’s really a testament to him to be able to come back from that type of surgery in July and play in an NFL football game. I mean I don’t know how many guys could do that. First of all, I give a lot of credit to him. He knows that he needs to go out there and play better.
“I’m sure he’ll be the first one to tell you that. As the game went on, I thought he played better and better. He was getting more used to the speed of the game. He hadn’t played in a long time. No training camp. I think you’ll see the more he plays, he’ll be back to what you’re looking for.”
Watt was noticeably rusty in his first game action since he had back surgery to repair a herniated disc in late July. He played in 49 of the Texans’ 57 plays on defense. In addition to his one tackle, the defensive end had three QB hits.
“I knew I wouldn’t have any problems with my back, and I didn’t,” the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year explained. “Definitely knocked some rust off. It felt good to go out there and get some live shots at you and get back in to the flow of things. I think it really gives me a good perspective, and lets me know what I need to work on.
“Physically, my body feels fine. I just need to get back into totally being myself out there and trusting my body and letting my body take over and do what it knows how to do. I have to stop thinking so much.”
Even the NFL’s best are subject to rust. Expect Watt to wreak havoc once again in a couple weeks.