Report: J.J. Watt 'Trending Toward' Return from Injury for Cardinals vs. Rams

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 14, 2022

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 24: J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after recording a sack in the second quarter against the Houston Texans in the game at State Farm Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt is reportedly "trending toward" playing in Monday night's Wild Card Round playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Friday that Watt's practice session Thursday went "very well" and noted he's dealing with "no issues at all" following his quick return from arm and shoulder injuries.

Watt, 32, was having a solid 2021 campaign for the Cardinals when his season appeared to come to an end in late October as he required surgery for a litany of arm injuries:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AZCardinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AZCardinals</a> DE JJ Watt suffered a dislocated shoulder and other associated damage from Sunday, sources say, and he’ll have surgery mid-next week to repair it. Watt did the damage attempting to tackle <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a> QB Davis Mills along the sideline, but played several more plays. <a href="https://t.co/iKmfrA8eeV">pic.twitter.com/iKmfrA8eeV</a>

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

How serious does an injury have to be to sideline <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AZCardinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AZCardinals</a> DE JJ Watt? Sources say he actual tore his labrum, his bicep, and his rotator cuff — and dislocated his shoulder. Watt was playing some of his best football and helped change the culture for the undefeated AZ team.

It was the fourth time in the past six years that a major injury cost Watt at least half the season. He played just three games in 2016, five games in 2017 and eight games in 2019 with a slew of knocks. 

Watt has been one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year, five-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro selection has two seasons with 20 or more sacks and five seasons with 10 or more sacks, which are ridiculous numbers for an interior rusher. 

Outside of Aaron Donald, no interior lineman had the impact of Watt in his prime, at least in recent memory. 

Much as he did in 2019, Watt attempted to make a return for the playoffs this year after missing a huge chunk of the regular season.

He's one step closer to making that reality, which would provide a major boost to the Arizona defense Monday night.