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J.J. Watt Around Cards' Facility, But Beyond That, Timeline Is Mystery

Defensive lineman went on Injured Reserve on Nov. 6

J.J. Watt hurt himself playing against his former team, the Texans, on Oct. 24. He was finally put on injured reserve on Nov. 6. Other than the Cardinals saying he had a shoulder injury, not much is known beyond that. The Cardinals have been quiet on the matter -- Kliff Kingsbury, after acknowledging at one point Watt was scheduled for surgery, declined to confirm it happened. Watt was at the home game against the Panthers last weekend, his arm in a sling.

So the question remains -- and will remain, now that there are IR rules allowing a player to come back as long as he's missed at least three games -- whether Watt could potentially see the field again this season, no matter how long the odds.

Watt is around. He was at the game Sunday, he was at the facility on Thursday. Even if he doesn't actually play, his presence means something.

"I have so much respect for the guy, not only on the field but off the field," tight end Zach Ertz said. "I know he's doing everything he can to get as healthy as he can. Obviously it's a big loss for our football team, but he's still leading. Even though he's not physically on the field he's still leading in the locker room, he's still leading in the meeting room. He's still heavily involved. That's no surprise to me."

Ertz said he has not seen Watt actually working out, noting he didn't know what Watt does during practice (although sometimes Watt does come out to watch, Ertz added.)

Crazy Watt returns to play have a precedent. In 2019 he tore his pectoral muscle, normally a season-ending situation, especially since it was midseason when it happened. But he beat the timeline and was able to return for the Texans' first playoff game. If -- and that's a gigantic if -- Watt does play again this season, it would also likely be in the postseason at some point.

Otherwise, the Cardinals will have to take what they can get from Watt in other ways that don't include anchoring the defensive line.

Injured DL J.J. Watt taps Jordan Hicks on the helmet after a play during a 2021 home game against the Panthers