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Watt tries to burn brighter for Texans

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The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON — Defensive end J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans has set his ambitions on even greater achievements this season.

Although Watt racked up 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown and was honored as Defensive Player of the Year for the second time last season, the Wisconsin native remains eager to find ways to upgrade his game.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder is chasing perfection in an imperfect world.

“There’s about a billion things I’d like to get better at,” Watt said. “It’s the absolute truth. When I watch the film, I click over the good plays real fast. All I see when I watch the film is the negative stuff. Everybody sees the highlights, everybody sees the great plays.

“It’s awesome. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun and it’s great, but there’s still so much to improve upon. There’s always something I’m working on every single day to try and improve my game.

“Don’t be mistaken, every single aspect of my game has ways that it can get better.”

Watt has piled up 57 sacks and a dozen forced fumbles in only four NFL seasons.

“Well, you know he’s the best player in the league and people recognize that,” Texans owner Bob McNair said. “He’s a rare talent and I think we all respect that, whether they’re on our team or another team.

“I respect it, I know that.”

Signed last year to a blockbuster six-year, $100 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus and $51.876 million guaranteed, Watt hasn’t displayed any signs of complacency.

Although he made the Hollywood scene a few times this offseason, including posing for a photograph with his celebrity crush, actress Jennifer Aniston, Watt spent the majority of his time hoisting heavy metal with his longtime trainer, Brad Arnett.

“J.J. is a superstar,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “He’s one of the stars in our league and deservedly so, because the guy just works.

“He’s equally impressive off the field with the way that he engages with the fans and with the people who respect the way he plays the game.”

As big and strong and fast as Watt is, there’s a strategy involved in how he sets up his moves to defeat blocking schemes designed to neutralize his impact on the game.

Watt will line up on the left side or the right side to get a preferable matchup against a blocker and is particularly effective against less mobile right tackles incapable of handling his uncanny athleticism.

Watt spends countless hours studying opponents in the film room, varying his approach to keep blockers from getting a bead on how he’s attacking the line of scrimmage.

“I use other people’s tendencies a lot, so I know that tendencies are a big thing, especially in this league where there’s film of everything that you do,” Watt said. “So, everybody can find anything. I’m very conscious of that and I’m also very conscious of how I counteract that.

“That’s one of the things that’s evolved in my game is, it kind of becomes a chess match between an offensive coordinator and myself. That makes it fun where it’s a back and forth game, and you try and figure out what they’re going to do, and they’re trying to figure out what I’m going to do.”


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