First-round draft pick J.J. Watt stepped right in as the Texans’ first-team left defensive end today on the first day of training camp. The former Wisconsin star is already an imposing physical presence at 6-6, 291 pounds.
“The thing I noticed is in college is he just made a lot of plays, knocked balls down,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Monday afternoon. “When they needed a big play, he made the play – a big sack, blocked field goals. He comes out here and today I think he knocked two balls down in a drill. He’s an effort player, and (defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) works wonders with guys like that. He’s been asked to do a lot, but that’s why we brought him here.”
Watt, 22, has a lot to learn and not a lot of time to learn it in this abbreviated offseason. But he has a clear path to a starting job with the Texans having released Amobi Okoye on Friday.
“It’s tough on any rookie, but that’s what we brought him here to do, and he’s a very mature young man,” Kubiak said. “If today’s any indication, he’s going to be just fine.”
Watt also made a good first impression on his teammates – although that won’t buy him immunity from rookie rites of passage.
“He looks good – a big strong, strapping young buck,” defensive end Antonio Smith said. “It’s going to be a lot of hazing going on. He can carry a lot of pads on that back. We can gather about 20 stacks of pads on him.”
Watt took it in stride, knowing that the good-natured ribbing comes with the territory.
“I expect them to be tough to me,” he said. “I’m a rookie, I’m a first-year guy, so they’re going to be tough, but I feel good for the first day. The install went well for me. I’ve had the playbook for a couple of days and been getting into it, so it just felt good to play football again.”
Tags: 2011 Training Camp, Antonio Smith, Gary Kubiak, J.J. Watt, Rookie Watch
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