The days before the Cardinals return to the playoffs for the first time in six years, they should get a huge boost back into defense.
Arizona announced on Friday that it had assigned a defensive section of JJ Watt to return from the injured reserve. Watt can be returned to the active list at any time during the next three weeks or at the end of the period.
We commissioned DL JJ Watt to return from the wounded list.
Watt can start training and can be activated to a 53-member roster at any time during the next 21 days or at the end of a three-week period. pic.twitter.com/OAr983Wo3P
– Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 7, 2022
The NFL reported Watt plans to return to the first game of the Cardinals playoffs, although it is not yet clear whether he will be able to meet this goal.
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Watt has not played in a week 7 match against the Texans, his former team, on October 24th. He left the match with a shoulder injury and was believed to have surgery at the end of the season to have it repaired.
While he was advancing and placed on the injured reserve on November 6, Watt managed to bounce back earlier than expected, potentially returning just in time to help his team at the start of the playoffs.
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After a long career start, Watta slowed her injuries. He played an excellent defensive end in the first 83 games of his career in the NFL. However, in 2016 he underwent pre-season back surgery and after appearing in the first three matches, he was placed on the IR and missed the rest of the year with another operation. He suffered a left leg fracture in five games in the 2017 season and was out for the rest of the season.
Watt returned to play in all 16 games of the 2018 season. In 2019, he missed eight games after surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, but in 2020 he played the entire season.
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In his first seven games in the new jersey, Watt still had to show off the stunning defensive numbers that Texas fans had seen earlier in his career. The 32-year-old had only one sack, 10 quarterback hits and five losing games at the beginning of his Cardinals career.
Despite more limited production compared to his early years in Houston, Watt is still a force on the defensive line and will increase pressure on an already strong pass rush. For Football Focus, Arizona ranks ninth best in the NFL and Watt ranks 83.1, the second highest of all players on their team.
The Cardinals will present themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, when they lost in the finals of a conference with the Panthers. Arizona enters the 18th week’s match against the Seahawks with a chance to win the NFC West, he needs to beat Seattle and the 49ers beat the Rams. The Cardinals last won the division in 2015, winning 13-3.