Texans' Watt adjusting to playing with broken hand

December 24, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt hasn't had a sack in the past two games.

That could have something to do with the fact that he's basically playing with just one hand after breaking his left one on Dec. 9.

Despite the lack of sacks, Houston coach Bill O'Brien raved about the work Watt's been doing since he was injured.

''Here is a guy that is a great player that is having to learn to play basically with one arm,'' O'Brien said.

''When you really think about that, to me, it's remarkable. His ability to adjust from the New England game to the Indianapolis game and learn and keep being disruptive, I am telling you, it is probably frustrating for him, but you talk about a superb athlete trying to adjust to that type of an injury, that is a testament to him and his ability to still play at a very, very high level.''

Now that Watt's feeling better and getting used to the club-like cast he wears during games the Texans hope that will help him get to Zach Mettenberger on Sunday.

He's had plenty of success taking him down in the past and his 5 1/2 sacks of the Titans' quarterback are his third-most of any player.

Watt pointed out that he broke his hand during practice only two weeks ago, so dealing with the situation is still new to him.

''I get more comfortable. I was more comfortable this game than the last game,'' he said. ''I'm definitely going to be more comfortable moving forward here.

''It's just a matter of getting used to it, understanding what you're capable of and what you can't do. Not trying to do something that you really shouldn't be trying to do. Trying to help my team whatever way I can.''

Watt leads the NFL in tackles for losses (25) and quarterback hits (44) and his 13 1/2 sacks are tied for second in the league. He's had five games this season with multiple sacks, which also leads the NFL.

O'Brien can only imagine the pain Watt endures by playing with a broken hand, but Watt said he isn't constantly uncomfortable during games.

''That comes in and out,'' he said of the pain. ''There's moments where it's much more painful than others. There's moments where it really isn't painful at all. It really just depends. Football is a violent game so obviously it's getting smacked around all the time and getting hit. There's very painful moments, but then there's also times where it's not that bad.''

Though he hasn't gotten a sack since his injury, he has seven tackles combined in the two games since he was injured. He downplayed his ability to play with this injury and pointed out that what he's doing isn't anything compared to what Florida basketball player Zach Hodskins, who was born without is left hand is doing for the Gators.

''I saw the Florida basketball player that had one arm and he was making layups out there,'' Watt said. ''I have my arm, it's just clubbed up, so I don't feel so bad. That kid was pretty impressive.''

If the Texans win and the Colts lose on Sunday, Houston will clinch the AFC South title and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Watt is excited to be in the thick of the playoff hunt after some difficult seasons since Houston's previous postseason appearance.

''This is the time of year you want to be playing big football games, important ones,'' Watt said.

''In my career here so far, it's not that long of a career, but I've played extremely important games this time of the year and games that really didn't mean a whole lot at this time of the year.

''I'm very fortunate and very happy to be playing games that matter and games that matter a whole lot. It's a great time of the year and we're very excited about it.''



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