The Houston Texans have lost defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus to season-ending injuries, coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Monday.
“Obviously we feel terrible for them,” O’Brien said. “To have their seasons cut short due to injury, it’s tough.”
Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a tibial plateau fracture during the first defensive series in Sunday night’s 42-34 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He fell awkwardly while engaged in a block on a passing play, and had to be helped off the field.
Watt was seen on crutches and eventually left the stadium in an ambulance.
Mercilus was lost to a season-ending torn pectoral muscle that was suffered on the same drive.
With two of the team’s elite pass rushers gone for the season, O’Brien acknowledged that former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will be among those who need to step up.
“There is no doubt J.D. is a guy we’ll count on to play really well for us,” O’Brien said. “This team understands it’s the next-man-up philosophy… We have a lot of season left.”
Clowney leads the Texans with 3.0 sacks through five games. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney has two. Mercilus had a lone sack, while Watt had yet to record one this season.