J.J. Watt says playing against Texans won't be as emotional as some may think

The Texans team that J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins face won't look very familiar to them

Photo of Matt Young
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)Kirk Irwin/Associated Press

When J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins line up against the Texans on Sunday, it likely will be a lot more emotional for fans back in Houston than it will be for the players on the field.

The Texans have had so much turnover both on the roster and in the coaching staff that Watt and Hopkins won't actually be playing against a ton of familiar faces.

“There are so many guys I don’t know, I have to use our scouting report,” Watt said in a Zoom call with Houston media this week. “The roster is almost entirely turned over, so it’s not like I have a history or relationships with the guys on the team because it’s such a brand new lineup. There’s not a lot from that standpoint, but in terms of the people, the city, the memories and the history, it’s all love.”

In other words, don't expect Watt to get overly emotional just because he's playing against his old team.

"I don't think it's what people may think it is," Watt said.

Watt got his first sack of the season last week and has 15 total tackles, but according to ESPN analytics, Watt ranks third in the league among defensive tackles in pass rush win rate, which measures how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds.

Watt is also part of a team that is off to a 6-0 start, while his old squad is limping around at 1-5.

When asked if he left because he thought this was the kind of season the Texans might experience, Watt paused for a moment and just said, "Yeah."

Watt asked to be let go after last season, and after the Texans granted his wish, he signed a two-year, $31 million contract with the Cardinals.

Hopkins, on the other hand, was traded away by Bill O'Brien in a shocking move. Hopkins tied his career-high in catches last season with 115 to go along with 1,407 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He already has six touchdowns in six games this season.

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