• 55°

Texans’ Watt looks to build on return from injury in Game 2

By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — J.J. Watt got better as the season opener went on, his first game since breaking his leg last October.
“Whatever it was, knocking rust off in the first half or just getting back up to speed in a full game, but definitely started to feel more like myself in the second half,” Watt said of the loss in New England.
After getting through that game, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is looking to make more of an impact this week when the Texans visit Tennessee.
Although the defensive end was confident he’d be OK last Sunday in his first game since Oct. 8, he admitted it was a relief to go for 70 plays on turf and come out feeling good.
“Felt fine the whole game,” he said. “Never thought about it once. I’m very pleased with how it turned out and … with the second half, I started to really begin to find my groove as a player again.”
It was an encouraging start for a player who not only sat out the last 11 games of 2017 but also missed all but three games in 2016 because of a back problem which required two surgeries. The Texans hope Watt can shake off his last two injured-plagued years and reach the level of Defensive Player of the Year, which he won in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Watt’s injuries came after he never missed a game in his first five NFL seasons and twice led the league in sacks.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel loved having Watt back and said his presence makes the entire defense better.
“It’s always exciting to see him in the backfield,” Crennel said. “It’s very helpful because he’s a playmaker. When he makes plays it helps the other guys also, because he lifts everybody up.”
Watt insists that, except for a couple of tough months immediately following surgery, he never lost belief he could return to form. Now it’s just a matter of showing everyone that he was right.
“I’ve never questioned what I can accomplish, but … it always comes down to going out there and doing it and proving it,” he said. “I just have to continue to work and grow. It may not come in the first game, but as long as I continue to do what I need to do and practice the way I need to practice, everything will take care of itself.”
Watt had two tackles and two hits on Tom Brady in Houston’s 27-20 loss to the Patriots. He also came close to getting his first sack since Sept. 18, 2016 before nose tackle D.J. Reader ended up taking down Brady instead for one of his two sacks.
“We’ve had a few discussions about it,” Watt said. “I’m not going to say my (hand) was on his ankle at the same time or before or anything, but we’ll see.”
Now that he has the first game out of the way, Crennel is looking for Watt to continue his progress and start making the kind of impact he did before his injuries. Houston could use a big game from Watt and the defense to avoid an 0-2 start.
“I expect him to continue to knock the rust off and get better every week,” Crennel said. “That’s what I’m expecting. So hopefully that will occur and if it does that will help us.”
___
For more AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Comments

Education

Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data

Business

‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home

News

Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine

News

Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law

Local

Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award

Landis

Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

College

College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1

Nation/World

Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed

Nation/World

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

BREAKING NEWS

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native