Bill O'Brien Takes Wait-And-See Approach With J.J. Watt Return

By SportsRadio 610
HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Ahead of J.J. Watt's second practice since returning from a torn pectoral muscle, head coach Bill O'Brien said the Texans are still evaluating how much the star defensive end will be able to contribute.

No expectations have been set outside of Watt formally participating in team practices.

Watt has said the goal is for him to play in the wild card round of the playoffs, in which the Texans secured a spot by clinching the AFC South division last Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

O'Brien said Thursday Watt passed about 20 tests before he was declared eligible to return to practice. 

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"I don't know. We'll have to see," O'Brien said when asked what to expect from Watt. "That's why we did what we did on the timetable we did it ... to see how he looks in practice and then kind of go from there. ... 

"J.J. and I had a lot of conversations about this. J.J., even before being declared eligible to come back to practice, he passed a number of tests along the way. Let's just call it 20 tests, whatever those tests might be. So everything from here on out is more about football relative to what he'd be able to do. We'll have to see. It was only one day of practice, so we'll have to see as we go through the next couple of weeks to see where it's at."

Watt was placed in the injured list after suffering the torn pectoral in October against the Oakland Raiders. He tackled Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs for a six-yard loss before realizing something was wrong. 

"I didn't have any pain whatsoever when it happened. I didn't have any," Watt said Tuesday. "I knew something was wrong, but I didn't have any pain, I think it was just such a fast thing. I knew something was wrong, I kind of – I didn't know what was wrong and then I tried to play the next play and realized something was pretty wrong. Then I went over and they told me what it was, they knew right away. But yeah, they just put it back on and then two months later, here we go."

His impact on the team is in some ways immeasurable. Watt's a captain and team leader, aside from his production on the field. 

Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus leads the team in sacks with 7.5. Watt ranks second on the team with four sacks. 

Watt is expected to draw extra attention in pass protection if he's on the field, opening up opportunities for players like Mercilus, Brennan Scarlett, Jacob Martin, D.J. Reader and rookie Charles Omenihu. 

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