J.J. Watt is finally ready to make his long-awaited debut with the Arizona Cardinals, and he couldn’t be more excited about it.
GLENDALE, ARIZONA (AP) — Before J.J. Watt hit the field for his first training camp session with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, coach Kliff Kingsbury knew the three-time defensive player of the year was going to attempt to push the boundaries and play more than he was supposed to.
That is precisely what occurred.
Now that sessions are closed to the public, Watt made his training camp debut in front of empty bleachers. He was only meant to participate in solo exercises, but as practice progressed, those rules fell by the wayside.
“That’s part of the difficulty,” Watt said, “easing back in and trusting it.” “When someone asked how I was feeling, I said, ‘Like a dog chasing a tennis ball.’ You just want to grab it wherever it bounces, and you’re so happy to be out there that it doesn’t matter whether you’re meant to go where it bounces; you’re just going for it, and that’s how it felt today.
“You’re just ecstatic to be out there and to be playing with the boys, and it was a blast.”
Watt started his first session by leading the defensive line in a bag-running exercise. After that, he participated in sled exercises before the team session started.
Watt was supposed to take it easy throughout camp after injuring his hamstring during a fitness test on the first day of training.
“We wanted to make sure we were very careful and make sure he felt 100 percent before we put him back out there,” Kingsbury said before practice at a press conference.
“We certainly took our time,” Watt said.
Watt claimed he doesn’t need preseason games to know his body is ready to play in the regular season, a feeling he’s had for the last ten seasons.
“I’ve played in a lot of football games and circumstances,” he added, “so I know what my body needs to be ready for Game 1.” “I don’t believe the preseason games are really essential for me.”
Watt, on the other hand, has remained committed.
He’d already played in a version of the Cardinals’ defense, so he was acquainted with the system when he arrived in Arizona. He’s also attended daily meetings, studied, and watched movies.
“There’s no need to be concerned,” he added.
Watt’s next move is to work with the other first-team defenders, particularly rookie inside linebackers Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, to understand their habits and determine whether “we’re all viewing the plays the same way.”
Watt spent the first two preseason games assisting younger players when he thought it was necessary and supporting them when he felt it was appropriate.
Watt is open to having his snaps limited this season, with the regular season less than three weeks away.
Watt has logged over 900 snaps in five of his ten seasons on the field. Every season he’s participated in all 16 games, he’s played at least 741 snaps, which he’s done seven times but just twice in the past five. He just finished a complete 16-game season in 2020, with 978 snaps.
“I believe being able to trim some of them down a little bit would be helpful,” Watt said. “I mean, once the game gets going, you feel like, ‘I need to be out there and I want to go out there and make the plays,’ but there’s also the side of being wise and knowing that it’s a long season, it’s a long game, and you need to be in there for the appropriate moment.”
“So, I think you’re lot more comfortable doing it when you have competent people behind you who are capable of stepping in and making plays.”