In many ways, 2015 was business as usual for J.J. Watt. He spent the season sacking quarterbacks (17.5 times, to be exact), routinely beating double- and triple-teams, and generally dominating opposing offensive lines on his way to a third Defensive Player of the Year award in five seasons.
However, in one very harrowing way, 2015 was a whole new world for Texans fans and J.J. Watt, as for the first time in his five-year career, we witnessed injuries taking their toll and eventually ending Watt's season in the 30-0 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. There was the broken left hand that forced Watt to play with a club on that hand for three games, and there was the groin injury that eventually would require surgery.
However, for the first time publicly, on my radio show on SportsRadio 610 on Wednesday, Watt admitted that he had also suffered a herniated disk in his back halfway through the 2015 season:
“Last year, was definitely by far the most strenuous on my body that I’ve ever had, fighting through a bunch of things that I’ve never dealt with before,” said Watt. “We had the broken hand. I had a herniated disk in my back halfway through the year. I had, obviously, everything that went on with my groins and I don’t think everyone fully understand what that proccess was like.”
Despite the various ailments, Watt played in all 16 regular-season games and for as long as he could go, in the Texans' one postseason game. Watt has played in all 80 regular-season games since he entered the league in 2011, but certainly the second half of the season, and especially that playoff game, gave Texans fans a nerve-racking glimpse of what life could be like as Watt gets more and more wear on his figurative tread.
Watt has spent the offseason healing, and has resumed full workouts in preparation for a 2016 season in which expectations are at their highest since the 2013 preseason:
“I’m doing pretty darn well,” Watt said. “I feel really good. I’m back to full-fledged training. Obviously, I’m working to get back to my 100% tip-top shape. I am back to my full workouts, I’m back to everything. So now it’s just building back to what I was and going above and beyond that, which I will be at by the first game of the season.”
Among the other items touched on in the interview:
* Watt is excited about the organization's commitment to Brock Osweiler at quarterback. "It’s the National Football League," said Watt. "It’s a quarterback-driven league; you have to have a quarterback to be successful. I think the opportunity to have a guy like that to step in, to come in and hopefully provide stability to that position, it will hopefully allow our defense to shine.”
* His charity softball game will be on May 14 at Minute Maid Park. Ticket sales have been brisk, and Watt mentioned that he has the entire upper bowl priced at $5 per ticket so families can attend. The offense-versus-defense event raises money for Watt's foundation, which provides funds for after-school sports in underprivileged areas. Last year, the event raised more than $600,000. Tickets can be purchased at jjwfoundation.org.
* Watt assured us that his hair is most certainly NOT frosted in this picture...
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You can hear the interview in its entirety here:
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.