The Houston Texans spent most of last season struggling with their most important offensive player and their best defensive player on injured reserve.
Few teams have more at stake when it comes to offseason rehab than the Texans, who are keeping close eyes on quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt. When Texans coach Bill O’Brien talked to NFL Network on Monday, he came to share good news.
Watson should be ready for training camp
The last time we saw Watson on the field, it was in an incredible shootout against the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson. The 41-38 Seahawks win was one of the best regular-season games you’ll ever see. Watson had 402 yards and four touchdowns and established himself as the story of the NFL season.
Then Watson tore his ACL in a freak injury in practice, robbing fans of one of the most exciting rookies to come around in some time. The good news is that Watson seems to be coming along well. O’Brien said Watson should be ready for training camp.
“Doing a good job in his rehab, I think he’s on schedule to be able to participate in training camp,” O’Brien said on NFL Network. “We’re excited about that. We’ve had a good four-week session with him in the offseason program.”
That doesn’t mean Watson will be a full participant for the start of camp, but he will be about nine months removed from tearing his ACL when camp starts. The Texans won’t rush him, but all indications seem positive.
O’Brien “won’t bet against” Watt
Watt’s season ended with a tibial plataeu fracture of his left leg, an injury that caused Watt to leave the stadium in an ambulance and left a horrible scar. O’Brien didn’t put a timetable on Watt’s return to the field like he did with Watson, but had some positive things to say.
“He’s doing a lot of great things on and off the field, relative to being able to be back and ready to go,” O’Brien said. “Obviously we’re not going to rush any of our injured guys. Those guys are right on schedule. J.J. is doing a great job with his rehab.
“This is a guy that’s one of the best players to ever play the game. I would never bet against J.J. Watt. He’s going to be back, he’s going to be at full strength, and he’s going to help us win a lot of games.”
There’s more ambiguity with O’Brien’s comments on Watt and the “I would never bet against J.J. Watt” quote can be analyzed a few ways. Let’s keep it positive and take it at face value, and hope the three-time NFL defensive player of the year will be back good as new.
Texans will have to be careful
The Texans will be in a tough spot this summer. They need Watson and Watt back if they want to be competitive. The Texans fell apart without them last season, particularly after Watson went down and the offense became putrid.
However, both players are pillars for the organization and someone will have to keep the big picture in mind. The Robert Griffin III example will be used for a long time, and there’s a reason. Teams won’t want to rush young quarterbacks back before they’re ready and ruin them forever, as then-Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan allowed with Griffin.
The same goes for Watt. Watt’s back injuries and now the devastating leg injury are very concerning. He’s 29 years old, which isn’t nearing the end for a defensive star but it’s also not unheard of to see players show some signs of slowing down at that age. Especially when significant injuries are involved. Watt’s progress will be a major story throughout training camp and through the first couple months of the season.
But, according to O’Brien, all signs are good so far. The real tests are still a few months away, however.
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