Kliff Kingsbury confirms Cardinals DE Watt will have surgery next week
The Arizona Cardinals lost their first game this year without defensive end J.J. Watt Thursday night.
The veteran reportedly tore his labrum, bicep, and rotator cuff against the Houston Texans last Sunday.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury did not present a timetable for the veteran’s return during his postgame press conference, although he did confirm reports that Watt will have surgery at some point next week.
“I think a guy like that is irreplaceable,” Kingsbury said postgame. “I mean, he was having a heck of a season. It’s unfortunate it happened. But we’ve got to get some other guys to step up.”
Multiple reports Wednesday indicated that Watt will likely miss the remainder of the 2021 NFL season.
The Cardinals signed Watt in March to beef up the defensive line and add veteran leadership in the locker room.
He provided both very effectively through seven games. The veteran had nine quarterback hits in his last four games and received high praise for leadership from his teammates.
Watt’s absence was obvious in Arizona’s 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football. The pressure up front was not as consistent without him, which impacted getting to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the run defense.
The Cardinals have dealt with various injuries this year as most teams have, and they understand that it’s up to the team to make up for the loss.
“We’ll get Corey Peters back here pretty soon, and this what the NFL is,” linebacker Jordan Hicks said after the game. “You’ve got to step up. There hasn’t been one team that I’ve been on where there hasn’t been an injury. Backups, guys that are role players have to now step up and become the guy. It’s NFL football, man.”
Nose tackles Peters (COVID-19) and Rashard Lawrence (calf) also missed Thursday’s game, and will help the run defense upon return.
They will have extra time to do so for Arizona’s next game in Week 9 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The rest of the depth on the defensive line consists of Zach Allen, Michael Dogbe, Jordan Phillips, Leki Fotu and Josh Mauro.
No one of them will replace Watt, it’s up to the collective to improve on getting pressure up front and close the running lanes. This will allow edge rushers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden to have a greater impact on the outside.