HOUSTON – J.J. Watt's description of his injury Sunday is not for the squeamish.
The Houston Texans defensive end hurt his finger and later returned to finish the team’s 29-7 regular-season opening loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That wouldn’t be so notable, if not for Watt’s description of what happened to him.
“In the second quarter, some time,” Watt said of when it happened. “Just busted the bone through the skin. Nothing bad. Just tape it up.”
The three-time defensive player of the year left the game and headed toward the locker room appearing to favor his hand, but he returned after an examination.
Watt missed the majority of last season after needing surgery for a back injury. That prolonged absence might be part of the reason why he opted to return to the game Sunday, despite the injury.
Watt made an emotional return to the regular season on a day in which the Texans honored first responders from Hurricane Harvey, which struck the area two weeks ago and caused massive flooding after record-setting rainfall.
The responders were incorporated in pre-game ceremonies as Texas flag holders, the Color Guard, “Homefield Advantage captains,” and coin toss captains.
A moment of silence was held before kickoffs league-wide as fans and teams honored the victims of Harvey while Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida on Sunday.
Watt drew a massive response from the crowd during player introductions, emerging out of the tunnel last, and waving a Texas state flag. Watt, whose Houston Flood Relief Fund started with a goal of $200,000 and surpassed $31 million as of kickoff, wore cleats during with the colors and design of the Texas flag.
Despite his finger injury Sunday, Watt recorded one tackle and one quarterback hit, but did not comment on his status for Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Terrible,” Watt said when asked how he thought he played. “No other way to put it. Terrible. So, there’s only one way to go from here and that’s up. Can’t play much worse. Very excited that it’s a Thursday night game coming up and we get a chance to go out there and play football again very soon, because you don’t like to let a taste like this sit in your mouth for too long.”