J.J. Watt was off the PUP list and back on the field for the Texans’ first day of workouts.
HOUSTON — J.J. Watt ended his brief stint on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday by making life more difficult for quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans’ offense in training camp.
“He’s annoying,” Watson said. “That’s what he is — he’s annoying. He tipped two or three balls of mine today.
“He just changed the whole dynamic of defense and what we’re about, being physical and being disruptive in the passing game and run game. I learned something about myself and using my eyes and not staring down defenders. That was one tip that I took from today that he told me about, that whenever he saw me looking in a direction, he kind of stopped and he just kind of stands there and times his jump.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said while it was good to see Watt out on the field, “from an offensive perspective, it’s always hard when he’s back in there because we’re trying to execute the play.”
“But it’s great to have him out there,” O’Brien said. “He’s an awesome player, great guy, a guy that’s really put the time in in the offseason, and he’s really looking forward to having a great year. It’s great to have him back out there.”
Watt is coming off his first complete, 16-game season since 2015. Last year, he returned to playing like one of the top defensive players in the NFL, finishing with 16 sacks, four passes defensed and a career-high seven forced fumbles. His 16 sacks ranked second in the NFL to 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
For the first time since 2014, Watt is beginning training camp not coming off a major injury to start the season. Watt said his quick trip to the PUP list was “precautionary” and said he feels “great” heading into his ninth NFL season.
“Last year, I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish and I hoped I could accomplish it, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure because I hadn’t really played in a couple of years. So, this year I have a lot of confidence going in. I have a lot of excitement, I have a lot of energy, I have a solid base where I know where I’m at. Whereas last year, I was kind of feeling it out to see where I was at.”
Watt said he and Texans trainer Geoff Kaplan have talked about how he can be “smart throughout camp,” with scheduled days off to manage his workload and make sure he starts the season in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ready to go.
“With the training I’ve had this offseason, with the way that my body feels and with where I’m at, I’m really excited, I’m confident and I’m comfortable with who I am and what I’m going to accomplish,” Watt said. “It doesn’t matter what I say. I’ve said that before. It doesn’t matter what I say; it matters how I play.
“So, when I step on that field, that’s what matters. I could tell you I feel great, I could tell you I’m going to have 350 sacks this year. But when I go out there on the field, that’s what’s going to prove if I’m going to be good or if I’m going to suck. We’ll find out.”