Report: J.J. Watt expected to play Monday night for Cardinals in playoff game vs. Rams

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Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates after a tackle against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Oct. 24, 2021.
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates after a tackle against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Oct. 24, 2021.

Ten weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, labrum, shoulder joint capsule and a dislocated bicep tendon, among other things, defensive lineman J.J. Watt is expected to play for the Cardinals on Monday night when they meet the Rams in an NFC Wild Card game at SoFi Stadium.

FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Sunday that sources have told him Watt will play.

On Saturday, following Watt’s third consecutive practice with the team, Cardinals' coach Kliff Kingsbury said a final decision likely wouldn’t be made until Monday at the earliest. He said he wanted to wait until game day to determine Watt’s comfort level and what the coaching staff thought he might be able to contribute.

“We’ll take it down to the wire with him,” Kingsbury said. “I know if he has his way he’ll be out there.”

For Watt to play, the Cardinals first must officially activate him off the Injured Reserve list. They can wait until Monday afternoon to do that. Kickoff against the Rams is set for 6:15 p.m., Arizona time. NFL teams aren’t permitted to make roster moves on Sundays.

When Watt met with reporters on Wednesday for the first time since tearing up his shoulder during a Week 7 victory over his former team, the Texans, he said he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the Cardinals’ chances in the postseason.

“From a performance standpoint, I’m not going to put myself on the field if it’s going to put my team in a worse situation,” he said. “That’s not even a question. I’m not going to step on the field if I’m not able to do the things that I needed to do to help us win games.”

Watt intends to wear a shoulder harness if he does play on Monday night. He’s been wearing it for a couple of weeks now during his rehab and practice work.

Watt was given a recovery timetable of four to six months, but it’s only taken him two-and-a-half months to get back on the field. If he plays on Monday, it will mark one of the most incredible in-season comebacks in NFL history.

“You have no clue if you’re going to make it happen or not, but you go to work,” Watt said. “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I knew at that moment you were going to do everything you possibly can.

“I had to truly believe it every second for it to work.”

Watt recorded 16 tackles, five for losses, 10 quarterback hits along with a sack and a forced fumble before getting injured. His presence up front would help fortify the Cardinals’ pass rush and add another worry for Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is 0-3 in the playoffs during his career.

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Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at bob.mcmanaman@arizonarepublic.com and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Report: J.J. Watt is expected to play Monday night against the Rams