By Matt Hammond, SportsRadio 610By Matt Hammond

OTAs, check,

Minicamp, check.

Up next, training camp.

With the end of the Houston Texans mandatory minicamp on Wednesday came another benchmark in JJ Watt’s recovery.

In five weeks, there will be another. For the first time this offseason — and since Watt went under the knife in October, for his third time in nine months — Watt will take part in fully padded practices.

Watt said Wednesday, he’s happy with where he’s at.

“I feel great,” Watt said. “I’m very happy with the way it responded. Obviously with the amount of time that we took this time to make sure it responded properly, I hope it would respond the way it did but it feels great. Now it’s just a matter of going out there and having fun and enjoying it.”

After starting every game for each of his first five NFL seasons, Watt played only three games in 2016, when he was shut down following their Thursday night loss to the New England Patriots. The cause? Aggravation from the surgery he had the offseason prior.

Watt said he’s confident that it won’t happen again in 2017.

“With a major injury, it’s so easy sometimes to think about it too much and to let that creep in the back of your mind,” Watt said. “But that’s what’s been nice about these practices, is being able to let that fade and fade and fade. Really just enjoying myself, having fun and like I said, playing football. It feels natural, it feels good and I feel like I’m home.”

Is he surprised by how he’s felt?

“I wouldn’t say necessarily that,” Watt said. “Because obviously with the time we put in and all the work we’ve done to get to this point, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily surprised. I would say I’m happy. I’m happy with where I am and I’m looking forward to working toward the season and doing whatever I can to contribute to this team and obviously this city and try to make everybody proud.”

With five weeks before the start of training camp, Watt said he plans to go back to Wisconsin and work out with his brothers. But he’s looking forward to getting going in Greenbriar, West Virginia.

“It’s coming quick,” Watt said. “I’m very excited. I think it’s something like 40 days until we go to training camp. I just can’t wait.

“It’s a great time and when you’ve been in the situation I’ve been in, all you want to do is put on pads and get out there and play football. I can’t wait to get out there with my teammates, I can’t wait to hit people and I can’t wait to show our fans what we’re working on.”


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