Sportress of Blogitude

J.J. Watt won’t allow recent injuries change the way he plays

J.J. Watt did not play in all 16 Houston Texans games last season, the first time that has occurred in his standout, six-year NFL career. Limited to only three games in 2016, Watt understands there are doubters out there who question whether he can return to three-time Defensive Player of the Year form.

“I see them all,” Watt said Monday from NRG Stadium, via ESPN. “I know them all. I’ve heard them all. You hear doubters. You hear everything. I’ve heard everything from ‘You get constantly injured’ and things like that. This is the first games I’ve ever missed this last season. It’s not like I’ve been hurt every single year. It’s not like it’s been some over and over and over again thing.”

Watt’s 2016 campaign ended when he re-aggravated a back injury from the previous spring. A discectomy on that same herniated disc was performed in late September. The procedure, Watt’s third in a year, was deemed successful and he was cleared for all football activities in February.

Watt admitted Monday he can’t allow all the injuries, which also prompted surgeries to his abdominal muscles and groin following the 2015 season, change the way he approaches football. And that counts for practices, offseason activities and most importantly, games. He also acknowledged he can’t worry about another injury occurring.

“If something happens, it happens,” Watt said. “But all I can do is play as smart and play as hard as I possibly can and try to be the best teammate I can be for these guys. And that’s all I am going to do. Because that’s the only way I know how to play.”

Watt, when healthy, is without question among the best defensive players of his era. Watt did admit, though, in an essay for The Players’ Tribune that the notion of retirement crept into his mind as he navigated all the surgeries and rehab.

Regardless of what happens going forward, it goes without saying a healthy and dominant Watt is good for the NFL … although not as good for Texans opponents.