Who says preseason is meaningless?
J.J. Watt remembers very clearly his first NFL experience on August 15, 2011.
"It was against the New York Jets," Watt said. "It was Monday Night Football here in Houston. It was very special. Obviously the first time you put on a game uniform in the NFL is a pretty big deal. That's a lot of work. That's an entire life of work. It's what every kid growing up playing football dreams about. Regardless if it's preseason and you play one play, 10 plays, when you put on that uniform, it's something special. It's an accomplishment, whether you make it beyond that play or not, it's an accomplishment. I have a lot of respect for anybody who makes it."
The Texans would defeat the Jets 20-16 at what was then known as Reliant Stadium. Nobody, not even Watt, knew that would be the beginning of a season that produced the franchise's first-ever division title, postseason appearance, and playoff win.
This Saturday, the Texans kick off their 2014 preseason against the Arizona Cardinals. It will be the first time the rookies display their talent on the NFL stage. It's also a chance for the veterans to wipe the slate of 2013 clean with a new game plan, new plays, and new hopes for a better season under head coach Bill O'Brien and staff.
Watt is no exception.
"I'm trying to go out there, compete, have fun, give myself some good tape to learn from and get our defense going, get our defense live and ready to roll," Watt said. "Have fun. It's football. There's nothing greater."