By Alex Del Barrio

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – It’s been a long road back for Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt. With a pair of back surgeries before and during the 2016 season Watt has been on the shelf for several months watching his team thrive with Watt in absentia.

Watt watched as the Texans, led by Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, become the top defense in football in his absence and win a playoff game and a strong defensive outing against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots.

On Tuesday Watt was on the field for the Texans in the first organized team activity open to the media and was a very active participant with the first team defense. Watt was thrilled to be back on the field after being sidelined since Week 3 of 2016.

“I feel great,” Watt said on Tuesday. “I’m sure we’ll have some sort of program here where I take a day off here and take a day off there, but as far as when I’m allowed to be on the field, I feel awesome. I feel really good so it’s just, like I said, great to be back with my teammates.”

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was thrilled to have his three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year back o the practice field as the Texans hope to duplicate last season’s performance with having Watt as a primary contributor this time around.

“J.J. is doing great,” O’Brien said. “He’s been here all offseason. He’s working hard. It’s tough enough to block him in pads, let alone out of pads. So, he’s doing great. Like we all know, he’ll be ready to go.”

While Watt had a helmet on Tuesday, he’s looking forward to the day he can actually start hitting people and he’s full healthy and capable of doing it when that time comes.

“I have no restrictions from anybody,” Watt said. ” I’m practicing full-go. I just mean when I’m allowed to actually hit somebody and no red jerseys, that’s what I mean. I don’t like red jerseys very much.”

Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm  Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio


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