HOUSTON – Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt says he has been cleared for football activities and should be ready for organized team activities later this year.

The announcement came as Watt spoke to the media after working out at the Gatorade GX Gym set up in downtown Houston early Wednesday

Watt was sidelined in September 2016 after a second surgery to repair a herniated disk ended his season. He played in three games.

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The Texans star explained have being sidelined has forced him to be more patient with his recovery and training.

“Going through last year, you learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about what you need to do,” Watt told reporters. “Three surgeries, by the third one, finally kind of realize, OK, do what you need to do to make sure that you’re getting back 100 percent healthy."

He added that the patience and changes to his training have paid off.

“Don’t try to impress anyone, even yourself, don’t try to impress yourself how fast you can get back, how much weight you can lift so early,” Watt said. “Do everything the right way, and I have to say it has paid off big time. I have good people around me to make sure I do things the right way…the way my body feels right now, I can tell we did it the right way.”

Watt explained that he feels that an element of pride if partially to blame for him trying to come back too early from his second surgery.

“There is definitely an element of pride there, where you have to take some time to take some time there to realize that this is a serious thing,” Watt said. “You need to do it the right way, be smart. You can work hard, but be smart. And that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. And that is the biggest thing I am doing now. I am working very hard, but working very smart.”

The star defender explained that there were some down days during his rehab, but that it was a learning experience.

“I wish I could say here that I was super positive the whole time, had this great mentality, every day I woke up like it was going to be OK, but there were some very rough days,” Watt said. “There are a lot days you go through, you go through three major surgeries in one year, and you’re going to have some down days…but that’s where you learn a lot about yourself. That’s where you learn what’s important to you, you learn really what you want to do, what is important to you.”

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has attended several Texans games towards the end of the season, cheering on his teammates from the sidelines.

The Texans defense, even without his help, was able to finish the season ranked No. 1 in the NFL.