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J.J. Watt: I’m fully cleared for football activities

New England Patriots v Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: J.J. Watt #99 of Houston Texans enters the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had three surgeries last year and he said Wednesday that his attempt to get through the rehab process as quickly as possible backfired when he needed a second back surgery that ended his season after three games.

Watt spoke to the media in Houston and said that an “element of pride” drove him to push himself too quickly after his first back surgery and groin surgery in the offseason, something he said has taught him he had to work “very hard, but also very smart” this time around.

That approach seems to have worked out for him thus far. Watt said he is “fully cleared for football activities” and sees “no reason” why he wouldn’t be ready to go when the team starts their offseason program, although he did allow for the possibility that the team might want to limit him early in the process because of how much time he’s spent on the sideline.

Watt shrugged off a question about whether he felt the back injuries could shorten his career and said he feels it could be the opposite because of the hits avoided on his body while missing 13 games last year. The answer to that question won’t be known for a while, but Watt said he’s feeling a “new energy” about returning to a defense that did well without him and projects to be a very good one again in 2017.