Texans holding out hope for a Watt return

With the Houston Texans likely playoff bound, the team will not rule out the possible return of veteran defensive end J.J. Watt before the season ends.

Watt suffered a torn pectoral muscle in an Oct. 27 game against the Oakland Raiders. In the aftermath of the injury, Watt took to Twitter to express how disappointed he was that he would not be able to finish the season with his teammates.

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year’s frustration gave way to determination, with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien telling reporters Monday that Watt has put himself in a position to possibly return.

“I’m going to tell you that J.J. is working very, very hard,” O’Brien said. “And he’s certainly made progress based solely on his work ethic and who he’s working with in the training room. And we’ll see how it goes.”

Watt finished 2016 (back) and 2017 (leg) on injured reserve. He played every game during his first five seasons and played in 16 games last season with 16 sacks.

The Texans (9-5) have regular-season games remaining at Tampa Bay on Saturday and at home against the Tennessee Titans to close out the season. Although they have not yet officially clinched a playoff spot, they are likely to be in the postseason. If the season ended today the Texans would be the fourth playoff seed in the AFC.

Watt, 30, had 24 tackles, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in eight games this season. The five-time Pro Bowler has 479 tackles, 96 sacks, 23 forced fumbles and one interception in 112 games over nine seasons, all with the Texans. He led the NFL in sacks in both 2012 (20.5) and 2015 (17.5).

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)