Breathe, Houston! J.J. Watt's Elbow Is Fine, Despite the Return of the Black Menace Brace

I'm not sure if you knew this -- stop me if you've heard -- but J.J. Watt is kind of a big deal around here.

Yeah, I know the multiple magazine covers and the Yahoo! fantasy football television commercial were probably a dead giveaway. If you've been out to a Texans open practice and watched J.J. control the cheers of the crowd afterward like he's Obi Wan Kenobi completely mind-jobbing those stormtroopers at Mos Eisley, you probably already knew.

But if you needed any further validation of the "king" status of the Texans' third-year defensive end in this city, it came on Sunday morning when J.J. welcomed back that black menace we call "his elbow brace."

Yes, at a time in camp where the team is hopefully beginning to ramp up to that first preseason game this coming Friday in Minnesota and where players recovering from bumps and bruises are hopefully making their way back onto the field into team drills (see: Cushing, Brian), J.J. Watt was working out in individual drills off to the side wearing the infamous concoction originally made necessary last preseason when his left elbow popped out of joint during practice one day.


Is he hurt again? Is he only going to get 15 sacks now, not 20 1/2? This isn't supposed to be HAPPENING!!

Breathe easy, Houston. As it turned out, the brace made its return because J.J. decided that any little bit of elbow soreness reluctantly makes the contraption a necessity going forward, discretion being the better part of valor and all:

"Elbow is a little sore so the brace is back. It's just precaution. I just want to be smart with it. I put it through a lot of work over the last week. It's done a lot of work without the brace for the first time in a long time, so I'm bringing the brace back just as kind of a security measure, you know, to make sure it stays secure and it stays safe."

(NOTE: Watt answered the same questions about the brace and how he's feeling no fewer than three times apiece from the media. I was standing there listening when he said "for the third time" at least twice. And the only thing funnier than the media asking multiple times, seemingly wanting to make sure he's all right, is that I was ready to ask a fourth time because, well...I wanted to make sure he was all right!)

Also, as it turned out, the working out off to the side was just J.J. resting up a little bit and managing the training camp workload:

"Just resting up a little bit. Camp is a grind; just resting up a little bit."

I'm guessing Watt's physical labor balance sheet is still heavily in the black dating back to the end of last season, so if he needs a day or ten to recover physically and stay away from injury, then that's fine. Honestly, they can let him lounge on a king-size bed in a hyperbaric chamber with Texans cheerleaders feeding him grapes until it's time to get on the plane for San Diego in September, if you want to know the truth.

So what did we learn Sunday?

Well, we learned that if J.J. Watt had a malevolent, vindictive bone in his body, he is sitting on a trolling opportunity on par with Johnny Manziel's Tim Tebow jersey. Because if his elbow brace (which, it's worth noting, he wore all last season, for all 20 1/2 of his sacks and all 16 of his passes defended) is back and makes people worry even for a few brief moments, what would happen if J.J. decided to come out to practice wearing an overly bulky knee brace or, even worse (or better, if you like a good troll), on crutches?

The meltdown would be spectacular. For now, we can all go ahead and recover from the brief tremors caused by the return of the brace, which is now back for good.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast