Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Watt says he won't be facing same Texans 'I remember' on Sunday

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt looks across the line of scrimmage this Sunday and sees the Houston Texans' uniforms and helmets, he'll be reminded of the memories made during 10 seasons with his former team, the playoff games won and AFC South division banners hanging inside NRG Stadium.

But that's where the emotion of facing the only team he played for until this season will end.


"There's obviously something more to it," Watt said Thursday. "I don't think that it's what people may think it is because, I mean, you look at the roster and you look at the guys that are there, I mean it's been so massively turned over that there's only a handful of guys that are even there from last year that I played with.

"So, it's not like, I'm like, 'Oh, I want to go and beat my old team' or 'Oh, I can't wait to face this guy,' because it's not the same team. It's not the same organization that I remember and that I was a part of."

That's a large part of why Watt asked for his release from Houston back in February, he told the Houston media during a conference call Thursday morning. Watt said he expected Houston's roster to be turned over like it has as well as the lack of success that's resulted from it.

He barely recognizes the roster anymore, he said.

"There's so many guys I don't know," Watt said.


After 10 seasons, four division championships, helping the franchise win its first playoff game all while winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards and being named the 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, it pains Watt to see the Texans in this current state of disrepair.

"That's why it hurts me to see where it is now, because I believe those fans deserve to be living those high times and to be experiencing those great moments and it hurts to know that they're not, and to know that they're struggling," Watt said. "So, I hope that they get back there at some point and I hope that they get to do that because I know firsthand it's an unbelievable place to play when you're rolling."

Watt said once the game starts Sunday, it'll be just like any other game as the Cardinals look to improve on their 6-0 record with a short week coming up before hosting the Green Bay Packers on "Thursday Night Football."

Watt hasn't parted ways with all his "thousands of pieces" of Texans gear, and it sounds like he probably won't. However, he estimated, with a smile, that about half of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, his hometown, may be dressed in Texans clothing. That's starting to change to Cardinals red, he added.

"I mean there's 10 years of my life and there's 10 years of relationships," Watt said, "so it's not like I just chucked all my Houston stuff."


And, yes, Watt said he has "a couple of big friends" who fit into his clothes.

Seeing the Texans' blue, white and red uniform across from him Sunday at State Farm Stadium will be different, Watt said -- just like studying film all week has been.

"When I turn on the film this week and I watch the games and you're looking at NRG Stadium, for 10 years, I've looked at that film and I've been watching the team in blue and white," Watt said. "And now I'm watching it from the other perspective and I'm studying those guys, so it is, it's definitely different. "But I don't think I'm going to forget which guy I'm supposed to tackle, if that's what you're asking."

ESPN Texans reporter Sarah Barshop contributed to this report.

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