HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt held his first press conference since returning from his offseason back surgery on Wednesday and said his offseason, which included multiple surgeries was the toughest of his career and one that he is hoping to move on from.
The three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year is itching to play as much as possible on Sunday when they open the season at home against Chicago. He doesn’t feel there is anything he needs to be kept from doing.
“Anything and everything I’m asked,” Watt said when asked what he thinks he would be able to do in the first game after missing all of training camp. “I feel great. I feel no limitations whatsoever. My body actually feels better than it did for the second half of last season, obviously, with everything we were dealing with. I’m in a pretty good spot.”
While Watt is expected to play on Sunday against Chicago, it is possible that the Texans hold their defensive end back from extended play as he is in just his first week of practice back from surgery. Watt doesn’t feel any limits on his play is necessary after just returning from back surgery, but is expecting some sort of pushback from the training and coaching staff regarding his play count.
“I’m sure that they are going to try to put some limitations on me and we are going to have that conversation here as the week goes on,” Watt said. “The way that I felt in the last two practices, I don’t feel it’s necessary. My body feels great. My conditioning level feels great. Like I said, my body feels a lot better than it did the whole second half of last year. I’m a guy that likes to play every play. I’m a guy that likes to go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win. If they let me do that, great. If they put a play count on me, I’ll fight it as hard as I can.”
Watt was in positive spirits but was very candid on Wednesday regarding his offseason which was not easy for him. He let it be known that after undergoing surgery to repair muscles in his groin and abdomen back in January, he wondered if his career was close to the end.
“When I was in Philadelphia after the first surgery there was some days there where I really questioned whether or not I’d ever be able to play again,” Watt admitted. “Just some of the stuff we were dealing with from a rehab standpoint, just the way the recovery was going early on, but that was way back in January, February. There was a very low point there. It was tough. I was in a hotel room in Philadelphia for I think 10 days straight not being able to really walk or do anything. There was definitely a tough point there.”
Watt had five muscles repaired during the offseason including both of his lower abs. Watt also had three abductors (two on left and one on right) reattached.
Watt gave credit to Geoff Kaplan, the Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer for the Texans as well as Roland Ramirez, the Rehabilitation Coordinator and Assistant Athletic Trainer for helping him with his rehabilitation.
Watt felt he turned the corner during the week of the Super Bowl as he battled being able to move and get out of bed at times. He mentioned that just getting out of bed in the mornings was a process for him shortly after the initial surgery
“Roland Ramirez and I had been working on something for a little while and we had been trying this method out. It really wasn’t showing a lot of results. One morning, I woke up and all of a sudden – one thing I hadn’t been able to do since the surgery was lift my right leg straight up into the air. And I woke up in bed and – I do the test every morning just to see if I could – and that morning I did it. I called him right away, I sent him a video and I was like ‘look.’ So then I got up and tried some other stuff. I actually did up-downs in the room right there and sent him a video of it. I was like, ‘dude, it worked. Everything that we did worked.’ From that point forward, as soon as you get that little bit of light, it’s full steam ahead.”
The offseason was not kind to him as a precautionary MRI on his back shortly before the start of training camp revealed greater damage to his back than initially known causing the need for surgery in July. Watt felt that this offseason was the worst offseason of his career, but one that gave him a new motivation for keeping his body in good shape, but in a way that puts less stress on him physically.
“I’m really looking forward to coming out and having a new mountain to climb. It’s been a lot of fun, Watt said. There have been some days where it has sucked, where it absolutely sucked, but I really enjoyed the adversity that we faced and I enjoyed having to overcome those things and challenges that I really haven’t had before. I hope to never have an offseason like this again. But, I definitely learned and grew from it.”
Watt made some comments during the offseason on Sportsradio 610 that he didn’t know how much longer he was going to play. Watt felt that the injuries that had piled on and led to him seeing his own NFL mortality.
“When I made those comments, I’m dealing with all these different things, the broken hand, the back, everything. At that point, you are kind of like ‘I don’t know if I can do this forever,” Watt said. “Now that I’m all fixed up and I feel good and I’m healthy. Obviously, anything can happen. I’m not going to ever stand here and say I know when I am going to be done playing. It’s year-by-year, it’s day-by-day. I feel great and I love the game. As long as I love the game and as long as I love coming out to practice and playing with my teammates, I’m going to continue to do it.”
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