ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ J.J. Watt won’t risk team success for potential Wild Card return

Jan 12, 2022, 3:02 PM

When Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt met with reporters for the first time in months since undergoing shoulder surgery, he needed a phone to rattle off the laundry list of damage the dislocation did to his body in an Oct. 24 win over the Houston Texans.

Not only was his shoulder dislocated through the back, it took with it his rotator cuff, labrum, capsule and infraspinatus while also dislocating the lineman’s bicep tendon in the process.

Watt underwent surgery 10 days later before eventually being placed on the injured reserve, effectively ending his regular season.

Despite the 4-6 month recovery timeline given after the surgery, Watt did just about everything he was allowed to do from a rehab standpoint. That included areas such as treatment, workouts and little movements to nutrition and sleep, all in the hopes of making it back for the postseason.

“For me personally, there’s never been a moment where I didn’t consider it realistic, because if I did then it wouldn’t work,” Watt said Wednesday. “You have to believe in the process and you have to believe you’re gonna do something.”

Still, an injury of that magnitude would knock just about any other player out for not only the regular season, but any sort of playoff run along with it.

Watt is cut from a different cloth, however.

Designated to return from IR this week, the lineman has exceeded his original prognosis following his surgery and has the potential to return for the Cardinals’ Wild Card matchup against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

While his status remains murky at best, this week of practice will be very telling as to where exactly the lineman is in his recovery process.

“I’m doing stuff on my own, been doing stuff with offensive linemen on the side but haven’t been in the actual full blown practice setting yet,” Watt said. “So I’m looking forward to that, looking forward to getting back out there with the guys and we’ll make (a decision on the Wild Card game) as Monday comes closer.”

There’s an unquestioned buzz around the organization with Watt’s designation to return to say the least. Whether it be coaches or players, No. 99’s presence is surely felt within the walls of the training facility in Tempe.

But although both the Cardinals and Watt would love nothing more than to see him return for Arizona’s first playoff game since 2015, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year won’t selfishly risk team success for the sake of saying he made a miraculous recovery.

“From a performance standpoint, I’m not gonna put myself on the field if it’s gonna put my team in a worse situation,” Watt said. “That’s not even a question.

“I’m not gonna step on that field if I’m not able to do the things I need to do to help us win games. That would detrimental to the team and I’m not gonna do that.”

The Cardinals take on the Rams in the NFC Wild Card round at 6:15 p.m. on Monday night. Tune to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station for all the action.

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