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Report: J.J. Watt back injury happened “very recently”

Wild Card Round - Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans reacts in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas. The Chiefs won 30-0 against the Texans. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recently had back surgery. The procedure occurred not because of a lingering problem that he had decided to treat with rest or other strategies not involving a scalpel.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Watt’s the injury that resulted in surgery occurred “very recently.”

If it happened since the end of the offseason program, Watt would be a candidate for the non-football injury list, a designation that applies to ailments not occurring within the confines of official team activities. Placement on the NFI list or the physically unable to perform list makes no difference, as a practical matter -- unless Watt would miss regular season games and the Texans would exercise their prerogative to not pay him.

They’d surely still pay him. Per Rapoport, it probably won’t come to that; Watt’s recovery time will be 6-8 weeks.

Still, the high side of that estimate definitely puts Watt up against Week One, against the Bears. Then there’s the question of whether he’ll be 100 percent or close to it that quickly.

It won’t be a surprise if the Texans take their time with Watt, ensuring that he’ll be as close to full strength before throwing him into the week-in, week-out grind that wore him down in 2015. With five seasons already completed, the team needs to manage him now with an eye toward keeping him around as long as possible.