Report: ‘Slim’ chance J.J. Watt returns in 2016

New England Patriots v Houston Texans

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (back) is not expected to come off injured reserve and return to the field during the 2016 season.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Texans believe Watt will be back in 2017 without any long-term concerns, but hope is still “slim” regarding his return this season.


Watt, who had offseason back surgery, played in three games before landing on IR. He posted 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery, but it was clear the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was limited—especially last Thursday night against the New England Patriots.

Watt will miss the first game of his NFL career on Sunday, when the Texans host the Tennessee Titans. He had played in 83 straight games to start his career. 

“This won’t be fun, but it is necessary in order for me to return to 100% and play at the level that I am capable of playing at,” said Watt, who wrote he “will be back.”


The NFL’s new IR rules allow for a player to come off the list after eight weeks without specific designation. The Texans may be holding out hope for Watt to return, but he rushed back to start 2016 and suffered the consequences. It seems likely he’ll remain on IR, with an eye on 2017 as a realistic point of return to the field.

Watt, 27, has 76.0 career sacks, including two seasons with 20 or more. He was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

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