HOUSTON – Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has returned to the practice field as the team prepares for the playoffs, which begin in a couple of weeks.
A source close to the team confirmed Tuesday to KPRC 2 that Watt has suited up for practice this week.
Watt has been sidelined with a pectoral muscle injury since the team’s week eight game against the Oakland Raiders. He underwent surgery and has been recuperating ever since.
The Texans will have 21 days from Tuesday to take him off the injured reserve and add him to the active roster. If they plan to play him in their first playoff game during the weekend of Jan. 4-5, they'll have to activate him by 4 p.m. ET the day before the game.
Players on injured reserve must miss eight games before returning and Watt has only missed seven so far, meaning he could not play in Houston's regular-season finale against Tennessee on Sunday.
This is the third time in four seasons that the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has had a major injury. He missed the last 13 games of 2016 with a back injury that required surgery and played just five games in 2017 before breaking his leg. He played all 16 games last season and was a first-team All-Pro after finishing with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for losses.
Watt still leads the team with 20 quarterback hits and had 3.5 sacks in his eight games prior to the injury.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.