Report: 'Real Optimism' J.J. Watt Can Return from Injury for Texans in Playoffs

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2019

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 21: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans during pre-game warmups before the Houston Texans play the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on November 21, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Watt is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The Houston Texans won 20-17.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

J.J. Watt's season may not be over after all. 

Despite suffering a torn pectoral in October, Watt could make a return in 2019. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, "Sources say that Houston is saving its final injured reserve/designated to return spot for Watt, and that there is real optimism from all parties that he can return for the playoffs."

Rapoport noted that Watt could even return for Week 17, as the star defensive lineman is "doing incredibly well in rehab, sources say, and feels like he could go out there and play now even if that's not realistic." 

He will have an MRI on the injury later in December to provide an update on his recovery. 

Watt, 30, is a five-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All-Pro selection and three time Defensive Player of the Year. In eight games before his injury this season he registered 24 tackles (four for loss), four sacks, 20 quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries. 

In 112 career games, Watt has an incredible 96 sacks. Twice in his career he's posted at least 20 sacks in a season.

But injuries have become a major storyline in Watt's career. He was lost for the season after just three games in 2016 with a back injury. Another back injury cost him all but five games in the 2017 campaign. And after suffering his pectoral injury this year, Watt believed his season was over prematurely for the third time in four years:

JJ Watt @JJWatt

This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal. Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.

Getting him back would be enormous for Houston's defense. That unit is 20th in yards allowed (367.3 YPG), 17th in points allowed (22.6 PPG) and 29th in sacks (22). Despite the defensive issues, Houston remains 7-4 and atop the AFC South behind Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and the team's explosive offense. 

But for the Texans to make a Super Bowl run, they'll need more from their defense. Even if Watt returns at less than 100 percent, he'd help in that regard. Sunday's report is excellent news for Houston.