J.J. Watt got five plays in on Wednesday night, and that was just enough.
The defensive end was back in game action for the first time since a Week 3 loss at New England in late September of last season. He was limited in the preseason opening loss to Carolina, but was glad to be back on the gridiron.
"It felt really good," Watt said. "It kind of was one of those last things I was looking forward to checking off in the process. Making a tackle. Playing live ball. Getting hit."
The 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year had his 2016 curtailed after just three games because of a back injury. But a healthy May and June of OTAs, followed by an injury-free training camp propelled him into the contest on Wednesday in Charlotte. While he would've liked to play more, he understands the goal is to be ready to go on September 10 for the regular season opener.
"It was a bit of a tease, only getting to play four or five plays and having to come out, but better safe than sorry," Watt said.
Head coach Bill O'Brien was happy to see Watt, even though it was on a limited basis.
"It was good to get him in the live-action and prepping for a live game," O'Brien said. "For all of those guys that played a little bit, I thought it was good for them."
Along with Jadeveon Clowney, Watt helped chase down receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and Clowney was credited with the tackle. Being together, and healthy, was a plus for Clowney.
"It's great," Clowney said. "We have a lot of work to do. We are trying to get back where we were headed before. Now we just have to go back and get ready for New England."
Watt, Clowney and the Texans will have Thursday off and will resume practice at The Greenbrier in West Virginia over the weekend. The Patriots will practice with the Texans on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Houston Texans take on the Carolina Panthers for the first preseason game in 2017.