Thanks to the new injured reserve rules, teams can bring one player back from IR without designating him for return ahead of time. Technically, the Texans will have this option with star J.J. Watt, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be healthy enough for the team to take advantage. Any hope that Watt returns in 2016 is slim, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. On the plus side, the Texans believe he’ll be back in ’17 and there are no long-term concerns with Watt.
Watt had back surgery over the summer and he was showing the effects of it through the first few weeks of the season. Typically one of the NFL’s most fearsome players, Watt ranked just 72nd among interior defenders in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. Last year, Watt finished with 76 tackles, 17.5 sacks, eight passes defended, and three forced fumbles, continuing to assert himself as an elite defensive lineman.
To take Watt’s place on the roster, the Texans signed old pal Antonio Smith this week. While Smith will provide some much-needed depth, the team is obviously worse off without Watt. The 2-1 Texans take on the 1-2 Titans at home this week.
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