HOUSTON — Texans defensive end J.J. Watt returned to practice on Monday after missing all of training camp with a back injury.
Watt had surgery on a herniated disc in his back in late July after he aggravated a back injury. Watt passed his team physical on Sunday, and coach Bill O’Brien said Watt is expected to play in the Texans’ Week 1 game against the Chicago Bears.
In the portion of practice open to the media, Watt stretched and was running around on the field. O’Brien said Watt was working with his teammates as well during the remainder of practice.
Watt has returned to the field less than 50 days after this surgery, which is something his teammates said doesn’t surprise them anymore.
“It just goes to show he’s a warrior,” cornerback Kevin Johnson said. “All the stuff he’s been going through. His passion for the game, his love for the game. You just get a respect seeing him out there and knowing how hard he works.
“If J.J. got his leg blown up, I’d expect him to be back out here practicing the next day. That’s just the guy he is. He’s a hard worker, he’s tough. And he has a lot of passion for the game, and he wants to be great. I expect him to come out here and be the best player in the league when he’s out here.”
Watt has never missed a game in his five-year NFL career, playing in 85 consecutive games, including the playoffs.
Texans right tackle Duane Brown said having Watt back for Sunday’s game will make a difference against the Bears.
“It’s a huge boost,” Brown said. “Skill-wise, talent-wise he’s the best defender in the league. To have him out there always makes a difference. He’s a great leader for us.
“He’s a guy who sets the tempo. To have him out there from an energy standpoint and a mental, physical, spiritual standpoint, it means a lot.”