J.J. Watt still hopes to play in the Houston Texans’ season opener against the Bears on Sunday, but the reigning Defensive Player of the Year said there were times during his rehab that he didn’t think he would play again.
Watt had major surgery in Philadelphia in January, undergoing a procedure to have five muscles repaired and both his lower abs and abductors reattached. The surgery left him unable to get out of bed, an ordeal that drained Watt both physically and mentally.
"When I was in Philadelphia after the first surgery, there were some days there where I really questioned whether or not I’d ever be able to play again," Watt said, via ESPN. "Just some of the stuff we were dealing with from a rehab standpoint. And just the way that the recovery was going early on."
Article continues below ...
Watt said his lack of improvement led to mounting frustration, but a breakthrough in February gave him hope that his hard work was finally paying off.
"(Texans coordinator of rehabilitation Roland) Ramirez and I had been working on something for a little while, and we’d been trying this method out and it really wasn’t showing a lot of results," Watt said. "And one morning I woke up and all of a sudden, one thing I hadn’t been able to do since the surgery was lift my right leg straight up in the air. … And that morning I did it. I called him right away and sent him a video and I was like, ‘look.’ And so then I got up and tried some other stuff, and I actually did up-downs in the room, right there and I sent him a video of it. And I was like, dude, it worked."
But Watt wasn’t done going under the knife, having surgery to repair a herniated disk six months after his previous procedure.
Ironically, the frustrations from his surgery in January better prepared him for what he would face this summer and kept him in a positive frame of mind. He believed he would be ready for Week 1.
"No, there was never a doubt," Watt said. "Those guys were awesome in helping me and also awesome in being willing to have an aggressive approach. After a surgery, the rehab can go one of many ways, and these guys were willing to accept my aggressive style, and we did it in a smart fashion, but we did it in a way that we knew that this really wasn’t going to be an issue."