J.J. Watt returns to practice after pectoral muscle tear

HOUSTON, Texas -- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt returned to football practice on Tuesday.

Watt tore his pectoral muscle in Week 8 while making a tackle on Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and had surgery two days later.

Watt is returning to practice eight weeks after his surgery. According to ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell, the typical recovery time for a torn pectoral muscle is 3-4 months.

"I feel extremely excited about being able to be back on the practice field with the guys. The medical team here has done a great job. There's obviously an element of risk involved that I understand and we understand, but to me, the opportunity to play in the playoffs... there's nothing that I want more and there's nothing that," Watt said in a press conference Tuesday.

The Texans put Watt on injured reserve, but have now designated him to return. With a return to practice, Houston now has a 21-day window to add him back to the active roster.

"It's an exciting day for me. Just to get back on the practice field for Christmas Eve, it's exciting and it's a nice present," Watt said. "They told me a couple of weeks ago that we were eyeing right around Christmas Eve, Christmas Day for when I could start doing this type of stuff. I've been kind of optimistically hoping for it ever since."

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JJ Watt talks about his comeback.

On the night Watt tore his pectoral muscle, he and the team initially thought he would be out for the rest of the season. "This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal," Watt tweeted on Oct. 27. "Absolutely gutted that I won't be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve."

Houston clinched the AFC South with a victory over the Buccaneers on Saturday, so they will host the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 and then host a playoff game.

Watt did not miss a game during the first five seasons of his career, but has dealt with major injuries in three of his past four seasons. In 2016, Watt only played in three games before undergoing season-ending back surgery. The following year, Watt broke his leg in Week 5.

Last year, Watt played in all 16 regular-season games, finishing the season with 16 sacks, which ranked second in the NFL.

When Watt got hurt, he led the NFL in pressures and quarterback hits. Houston is ranked 26th in the NFL with 31 sacks this season.

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