J.J. Watt’s broken hand is healing up just in time for the playoffs.
According to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com, the All-Pro defensive end of the Houston Texans practiced without a cast on his hand this week for the first time since breaking it three weeks ago in practice. Instead of a cast, he wore a brace.
This means it’s possible Watt could play Sunday when the Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This is potentially a huge development, not only for Watt but for Houston’s defense.
Playing with the cast on his hand the past three weeks has significantly impacted his performance, as Ganguli pointed out:
“Since breaking his hand, Watt has one sack, nine tackles and one batted pass. He’s disrupted 1.6 percent of the dropbacks he’s played against. Prior to breaking his hand, Watt had a disrupted dropback rate of four percent, which was far and away the best in the league,” Ganguli wrote.
Jacksonville’s second-year quarterback Blake Bortles leads one of the NFL’s top passing attacks. He’s thrown 35 touchdown passes — 24 of which have been caught by Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson — which ranks No. 2 in the NFL behind only Tom Brady, who has 36.
The Jags can play spoiler Sunday if they beat the Texans. A loss by Houston, coupled with a win by the Indianapolis Colts, could mean the Texans miss the playoffs, depending on a bunch of other circumstances.
This means Houston’s defense must be on point to take down the potent Jaguars’ passing attack, and Watt is the player capable of making the biggest impact. This is especially true this weekend, as second-year pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney has been ruled out with a foot injury.