The Texans announced J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture, which the San Diego Union-Tribune’s David Chao noted would cause the defensive end to either undergo surgery or be shelved for a lengthy period of time. It looks like both are set to occur.
That absence looks like it will include the rest of the 2017 season. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets Watt will indeed be out for the remainder of this season. This will require surgery, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets, confirming Rapoport’s report about this being a season-ending setback.
While additional tests are coming for Watt, the severity of this injury to the 28-year-old defender’s left shin bone looks to provide yet another substantial hurdle to surmount. This injury also affects the knee joint, with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle noting (on Twitter) it’s a range-of-motion issue. This will be a recovery process spanning several months, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle adds (via Twitter).
The Texans placing Watt on IR would sideline him for eight weeks, but the Texans announcing this precise injury looks to be a fairly indicative sign they don’t believe Watt will be able to return this season.
Watt suffered the malady during the first quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. The three-time defensive player of the year missed 13 games last season with a back injury and underwent three surgeries in 2016, sidetracking what had begun as a stratospheric career.
The four-time first-team All-Pro missing the rest of this season would end up shelving him for 24 games over the past two regular seasons. Previously, Houston’s 2011 first-round pick and franchise cornerstone had gone through five seasons without missing a game. Watt entered Sunday night’s game appearing to have bounced back fully from the back injury that ended his 2016 slate, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 interior defender.
Houston managed to finish as the 2016 No. 1 defense without Watt’s services beyond September, and this continues a pattern of injuries preventing the franchise’s top defenders from playing together. Jadeveon Clowney struggled mightily with maladies during Watt’s apex in 2014-15, but the former No. 1 overall pick emerged as a top-notch defender last season and was playing alongside Watt to start this one. Clowney will have to anchor the Houston front seven again.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.