In the NFL the season opener always brings excitement and anticipation. For J.J. Watt, there's plenty of both since he missed the final 11 games of the season.
“I’m very excited. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are cautiously optimistic," Watt said on Wednesday.
"Obviously the last two years we’ve said the same thing. So, I’m just looking forward to going out there and playing football, letting it loose, having fun and letting the chips fall where they may.
"It’s been a long road, it’s been a grind, it’s been a lot of ups and downs over the last couple of years, obviously. But, I love this game, I love my teammates, I love these guys and I love coming to work every day," Watt added.
Watt has played in just eight games over the last two seasons, after not missing a single game in his first five seasons. He's ready to make games' missed a thing of the past and knows there will be doubts that he can return to the form that won him defensive player of the year three times.
“Yeah, I think my mindset has probably changed on that a little bit over the years, too," Watt said.
"I mean, I’ve realized there’s people that doubt the best players in the history of the game. I’m sure there’s people that doubt Tom (Brady), which, he’s the best quarterback of all-time. I’ve learned that peoples’ opinion doesn’t really matter. The peoples’ opinion that I care about are my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches, my girlfriend.
"Whatever everyone else thinks doesn’t affect my day-to-day life but I’m going to go out there and try and make those people I mentioned proud,” Watt continued.
It's a pretty extreme challenge, opening the season on the road at the defending AFC champion Patriots
“It’s obviously, probably, the best quarterback of all time, one of the best coaches of all time, great team," Watt said.
"Their track record speaks for itself. They’re phenomenal. They’ve been doing things for a long time at a very high level, so, it’s always exciting to get out there on the field and be able to play against a team of that caliber," Watt added.
"Very much looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to get back on the field myself.”