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Texans star J.J. Watt could miss rest of season because of back injury

J.J. Watt
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt gets set to play against the Patriots last week.
(Tim Bradbury / Getty Images)

J.J. Watt is out until at least December and could miss the rest of the season because of a back injury, leaving the Houston Texans searching for ways to deal with the loss of the NFL’s best defensive player. 

Watt was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, which means he’ll be out for a minimum of eight weeks. 

“You can never replace the best player in the NFL,” Coach Bill O’Brien said. “When someone like that goes down, it’s a tough thing obviously, but at the same time this is a team.” 

O’Brien said Watt had re-injured his back and putting him on injured reserve was the best thing for his long-term health. “It’s flared up to the point where he can’t continue to play right now,” O’Brien said. “Going on IR will give J.J. all the time he needs to make sure that he’s 100% healthy and back to being himself.” 

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The team was still exploring the injury and it’s unclear if it will require surgery. 

Watt, who won the defensive player of the year award the last two seasons, missed training camp and Houston’s four preseason games after surgery in July to repair a herniated disk in his back. The defensive end started each of the team’s three regular-season games and got hurt again Thursday against the New England Patriots. 

Some have wondered if Watt’s latest setback came because he returned too quickly from surgery in July. O’Brien dismissed that suggestion. “J.J. did absolutely everything he could do to get back on the field after surgery this summer,” he said. “He followed his doctor’s orders, he played it smart. He passed every test before being cleared to play.” 

Watt tweeted a statement that did not provide details on his injury. 

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“This won’t be fun, but it is necessary in order for me to return to 100% and play at the level that I am capable of playing at,” the post said.

Bryant has hairline fracture

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has a slight hairline fracture in a bone in his right knee, though Coach Jason Garrett said he might not miss a game. 

Bryant didn’t practice Wednesday, three days after getting hurt in a win over Chicago, and the same day the team got back results of an MRI exam. “We’ve had players with this kind of injury who missed no time in the past and other players who have missed up to a week or more than that,” Garrett said. “We’ll see how he does. When he comes in [Thursday], see how he feels and we’ll make our evaluations there as we go forward.” 

Bryant injured the knee on his first catch on the opening series against the Bears, but came back in the first quarter. He caught his first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter of the 31-17 win. 

Wilson will practice

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will practice Wednesday and all indications are he will be able to play Sunday against the New York Jets. 

Coach Pete Carroll said he needs to see how Wilson recovers from practice but as of now he’s expecting his quarterback to be able to play. Wilson sprained the MCL in his left knee while being pulled down awkwardly by San Francisco’s Eli Harold in the third quarter of Seattle’s 37-18 win Sunday. 

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Carroll said Wilson is “pretty determined” to play against the Jets, even with Seattle having its bye in Week 5 and the chance of getting the quarterback two weeks of rest. 

This is Wilson’s second significant injury of the season. He sprained his ankle in the opener against Miami. 

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The Seattle Seahawks are expected to sign veteran running back C.J. Spiller with the team running out of depth at running back. 

The team said Wednesday that Spiller’s signing likely would not be finalized until Thursday. Carroll later confirmed the intent to sign Spiller in a conference call with the media. Seattle still has to release someone from its 53-man roster to clear a spot for Spiller. 

Seattle has been thinned at running back because of injuries to Thomas Rawls (shin) and C.J. Prosise.

Rex the reporter

Add another reporter to the NFL beat: Rex Ryan.

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Introducing himself as “Walt Patulski from the Buffalo News,” the Buffalo Bills coach popped in during a conference call New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was holding with reporters in the team’s media room. 

Ryan asked Edelman directly if he was playing quarterback against the Bills on Sunday, given the Patriots’ uncertainty at the position with Tom Brady suspended and his two backups managing injuries.

Edelman responded by saying he’ll do whatever Coach Bill Belichick asked of him, even if it meant passing out glasses of water on the sideline. Edelman closed by saying, “You should ask coach that one.” 

Ryan responded by saying, “All right, Julian, I will, buddy,” as the room broke out in laughter.

Patulski is a former defensive end, whom the Bills selected with the No. 1 pick in the 1972 draft.

Etc.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler returned to practice on a limited basis after missing a game because of a sprained right thumb. ... Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles could make his season debut Sunday night at Pittsburgh, though Coach Andy Reid acknowledged that it would depend on how he practices this week. Charles has not played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Week 5 last season. ... New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker aggravated a shoulder injury last Sunday, and his availability for the game against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday is uncertain. ... The Miami Dolphins ruled out four players for their game Thursday at Cincinnati because of injuries: linebacker Koa Misi (neck), center Mike Pouncey (hip), running back Arian Foster (groin) and tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion). ...

A second petition has been filed asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the $1-billion settlement of NFL concussion lawsuits because of how it treats current brain injuries versus future ones. The former players who filed the petition complain that chronic traumatic encephalopathy diagnosed before the April 2015 cutoff can bring $4 million while future CTE diagnoses aren’t compensated. They say that violates Supreme Court rulings that insist each subgroup in a class action settlement be treated fairly. The petition, filed Monday, echoes earlier complaints that the lead players’ lawyers signed a quick deal with the NFL in 2013 favoring their clients over thousands of others. ... The NFL received a high grade for its racial hiring practices and a C-plus for its gender hiring efforts in 2016, according to a diversity report. The annual report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave the league its seventh consecutive A on racial hiring practices and a combined grade of B for hiring minorities and women. The second straight C-plus indicates the NFL still has a long way to go in improving hiring opportunities for women, but it is a dramatic improvement from two years ago, when the numbers were abysmal. 


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