Texans star J.J. Watt apparently not done for year, reportedly could be making Week 17 or playoff return

After J.J. Watt went down with a serious injury back in October, the Texans thought for sure that his season was over, but apparently, that might not be the case anymore. 

According to NFL.com, not only is Watt expected to return this season, but that return could be coming as soon as Week 17. It seems that the plan is for Watt to play in the next game where the Texans would actually need him, and he's only going to suit up in Week 17 if the Texans have something to play for. If the Texans beat the Buccaneers on Saturday, that would clinch the AFC South title for Houston, and in that case, Watt wouldn't make his return until the opening round of the playoffs. However, if the Texans lose, and next week's game against the Titans turns into a winner-take-all battle for the AFC South, then the Texans are planning to have Watt back on the field. 

If Watt does return in Week 17, the means his "season-ending" injury will have only kept him out for a total of nine weeks. The Texans pass-rusher tore his pec muscle during a 27-24 win over the Raiders back in Week 8, and after the game, Watt didn't sound too optimistic about a possible return. 

Over the past few weeks, Watt's healthy definitely improved, because the Texans have been cautiously optimistic since at least the beginning of December that he might be able to return. For one, the Texans saved one of their IR-return spots for Watt. Only two players are allowed to return from injured reserve during a given season, and the Texans only have one of those slots left after activating tight end Jordan Thomas from IR in November. 

Another sign that the Texans were hoping to get Watt back came earlier this week when coach Bill O'Brien admitted that it was actually a possibility. 

"He's certainly made progress based on his work ethic and who he's working with in the training room," O'Brien said. "We will see."

The final sign of a potential Watt return came Thursday when the three-time Defensive Player of the Year sent out a Tweet indicating that he would likely be back on the field this season, in response to a graphic showing his brother leading the league among edge defenders. 

In an ideal situation, the Texans would get first-round bye so that Watt could heal until the divisional round of the playoffs, but that option will go out the window if the Patriots win just one of their final two games. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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