ARIZONA CARDINALS

Report: Arizona Cardinals hopeful J.J. Watt returns to practice Thursday

Jan 11, 2022, 12:52 PM
October: J.J. Watt reads between the lines on Kingsbury-Oklahoma report.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Cardinals are “hopeful” that defensive end J.J. Watt can begin practicing on Thursday, giving him a chance to play Monday in a Wild Card game at the Los Angeles Rams, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Arizona on Friday designated Watt to return, which allows him to hit the practice field before he is officially placed on the active roster.

Thursday will mark the Cardinals’ first full-go practice since Watt’s designation to return. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that the weekly practice schedule cadence was pushed back a day with the Rams game not coming until Monday.

Watt appeared in Arizona’s first seven games of the 2021 regular season and on Oct. 24 played through what was reportedly a torn labrum, biceps and rotator cuff, plus a shoulder dislocation. He suffered that injury in the middle of a 31-5 win against the Houston Texans.

He recorded 16 tackles, seven stuffs, a sack and a forced fumble. Per Pro Football Focus, Watt tallied 28 pressures, highlighted by 11 QB hits and 16 hurries.

General manager Steve Keim told Burns & Gambo on Friday that he would not rule out Watt’s availability for the first playoff game that had yet to be set.

“Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t rule it out and I wouldn’t bet against J.J. Watt,” Keim said before Arizona’s season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. “What I’ve seen from him internally in the building, his work ethic, the things he has done out on the field making sure he has stayed in shape, his nutrition, his preparation, is second-to-none. There is nobody who works like J.J. Watt.

“Certainly think he’s got an opportunity here moving forward.”

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