J.J. Watt, looking tough with Orbit, the Houston Astros' mascot. (Getty Images)
Bad news for quarterbacks, running backs, and offensive lines throughout the NFL: Houston Texans monster defensive lineman J.J. Watt, the consensus NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, wasn't fully healthy last season. Turns out, the dislocated elbow that prevented him from playing in the preseason also affected his play early in the regular season, and was the reason for the brace on his left arm that he wore through a 2012 campaign in which he amassed 20.5 quarterback sacks, and set an NFL record with 16 passes defensed.
“In the beginning, it definitely affected me,” Watt said on “Texans All Access” on Tuesday afternoon. “All the ligaments in there were torn, they were all gone, so they had to have time to recover and regroup. So obviously, I wasn’t at full strength. The brace helped a lot, but it was more of a mental thing, getting over the thought process of knowing that it was injured and making sure that I could still have confidence in it. As the season went on, I got more and more confidence in it and obviously, it didn’t hinder me too much; I had some success out there. But (I’m) looking forward to a 100 percent full healthy season.”
Yikes. So, when Watt was doing things like completely clowning the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 30, grabbing two of his quarterback sacks and making the formerly verbose Leroy Harris look rather silly, he wasn't at 100 percent.
The 24-year-old Watt has enjoyed his offseason by participating in a NFL-USO tour overseas, traveling to Ireland, and bringing some decent heat when he threw out the first pitch at the Houston Astros' opening night game. But he's all about the work -- Watt is implementing some new training methods and he knows where he wants to improve.
“There’s a couple sacks that I missed where I need to get the quarterback down. There’s a couple things in the run game that I want to clean up a little bit as far as like sometimes playing double teams and things like that. And then my pass rush – my pass rush can still get so much better, just working on a combination of moves, working on setting up moves and different things like that.
“There’s a lot to my game that I can improve on, and I’m really looking forward to making that next step this year.”
Opposing offenses, you have been warned.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation