By Derek Fogel

Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Houston Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt addressed the media for the first time since back surgery ended his 2016 season.

“I feel great. Last year was a difficult year, there’s no doubt about it,” Watt said.

He is completely healthy and cleared for all football activities. There is no more time to waste for J.J. to get back to his former self. The weight room is his second home again.

“From this point forward my offseason is really a regular offseason now. So it’s full training, it’s doing everything. There’s a lot of added core work to my workouts just to make sure that I really solidify my core and make sure that that’s fully locked in to protect my back again in the future.”

It seemed like Watt had tried to rush back from his previous surgeries. That’s not the case this time, but he did admit that he was in a hurry to return. His own pride got in the way.

“I think there’s an element of being very prideful and wanting to get back as quickly as I possibly could.”

Watt also admitted that the peaks and valleys of recovery were painful physically and mentally.

“I wish I could sit here and say I was super positive the whole time and I had this great mentality every single day I woke up… But there were some very rough days… You go through three major surgeries in one year; you’re going to have some very down days and there were.”

With all the time off though, J.J. had plenty of time to think. He learned a lot about himself and what he wants. It also reinvigorated his love for the game of football.

“It’s really been exciting to me because it’s almost like there’s a brand new fire, there’s a brand new passion, there’s a brand new excitement level that I haven’t had in a long time which is weird because I’ve had a fire and excitement for a long time. So to have a new one and a re-energized one, it’s really cool.”

Despite rumors of his possible retirement and that this more extensive back surgery could shorten his career, J.J. feels like it could lengthen his time in the NFL.

“I can’t say for certain, you never know, anything can happen, but from my mentality and my mind-set it probably elongated it. Because, when you have to take a year off, obviously that’s a full year of hits off your body and everything but it’s also a mental year off… You start to feel like a rookie all over again… Earlier they would be talking retirement and things like that. For me, it’s like I feel like I’m just getting started.”

Watt now endures a long offseason of regaining strength and speed to be in full playing form yet again. The last thing on his list is to finally hit someone. He can’t wait.

“It’s like having an insatiable appetite that hasn’t been fed in a very very long time… It’s all pent-up and at some point, I don’t know who it’s going to be, but at some point, somebody is going to feel it.”

In the mean time, he’s enjoying the Super Bowl experience just like the rest of the city. Sort of.

“It’s obviously great for the city of Houston… But at the same time it’s also very frustrating to see the faces of two other teams on the side of your own stadium,” Watt said.


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