There’s some pretty huge news that broke tonight regarding arguably the NFL’s best player in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. As first reported by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Watt re-injured his back and will “be out for an extended period of time,” noting that it might be a season-ender.
Rapoport also added that the Texans are expected to place Watt on injured reserve on Wednesday while holding out hope that he might be able to return at some point this year. ESPN’s Adam Schefter spoke with a Texans source who said “it doesn’t look good” regarding Watt’s status.
Watt rushed back from a back injury to play in week one and has started all three games so far this year (he’s never missed a game in his career), but he was clearly still affected by the injury as he recorded 1.5 sacks in three games. It’s hard not to wonder whether he rushed back from the injury too soon and whether that led to his back injury getting worse.
Whatever the case, it sounds like Watt will miss extended time, if not the entire season. Since entering the league in 2011 Watt has put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career, starting ever game and recording 76 sacks and 15 forced fumbles. He has posted two 20+ sack seasons and has led the NFL in sacks twice, including last year when he recorded 17.5. He’s been a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in each of the past four seasons and has won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in three of the past four years. There are many, many people around the league and who cover the league who could call Watt the game’s best overall player, so this obviously is a huge loss for the Texans.
While you never like to see players get injured, Watt’s back injury could have an effect on the Colts’ chances of winning the AFC South. The Texans figure to be their strongest competition (and are currently leading the division), and the first showdown between the two teams will come in a couple of weeks when they face off on Sunday Night Football in week six in Houston. They will also play in Indianapolis later in the year in week 14. So Watt will definitely miss the week six game (assuming the Texans do place him on IR) and could miss the week 14 game, though there’s still a chance he could return for that one. You never like to see players get hurt even for rival teams, but Watt’s injury could have a big impact on the AFC South race.