Watt has been limited to just eight games over his last two injury-riddled seasons. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year saw his 2016 campaign come to an end due to a back injury while a broken leg sidelined him for the final 11 contests of 2017.
So, Watt was understandably upbeat after the Texans’ 21-20 preseason loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
“I wanted to get in on tackling, I wanted to have to pop back up, get back to the huddle, play another play, go off to the sideline, get a series and get another series,” the 29-year-old Watt said, via the Houston Chronicle. “You just want to get those little intricacies of the game that you don’t get in practice so that the first time you’re seeing it is not New England [in the season opener on Sept. 9]. I’m glad we got that in. It felt good.”
So good, in fact, that Watt decided to provide a little humor at his own expense.
“I liked the way I came off the field under my own power,” Watt said with a smile, referring to how he was carted off the field at NRG Stadium and taken away in an ambulance in October when he broke his leg against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s football. It’s where I feel the most natural. It’s where I feel at home.”
The Texans’ defense struggled in Watt’s absence in 2017, ranking 20th in yards allowed per game (346.6) and 23rd in sacks (32).
Watt has registered 76 sacks in 88 career games since being selected by Houston with the 11th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.
He was named the winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award last season. The award recognizes a player’s on-field excellence and volunteer and charity work.
Watt also was named to TIME Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people in April.