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J.J. Watt expects Texans' defense to top NFL


J.J. Watt is an up-and-coming defensive end for the Houston Texans, but is he even playing the right sport?

"I still might be a little better at hockey," Watt said in a Monday chat with Around the League at NFL Network studios. "I played hockey, I loved hockey, but it started to get real expensive. I had to buy new skates every year because I kept growing, and all the traveling to Europe and Canada added up, but I love hockey."

Coming off a season in which he showed the Texans flashes of superstar ability, Watt shouldn't have much to regret. Watt had a pick six of Andy Dalton in the wild-card playoffs to help lead Houston to its first-ever postseason victory. The following week, he finished with 2.5 sacks and nine tackles in a divisional-round loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

With the offseason departures of Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans, Watt will be asked to become a consistent force on Wade Phillips' defense. The unit finished second in the league last season, and Watt knows the expectations are far higher heading into 2012.

"We're definitely aware of expectations, and I think they're even higher in our room than they are on the outside world," he said. "Last year, I believed we finished No. 2 in overall defense, this year we want to be No. 1. It takes a lot of hard work and it's not going to be easy, but it's our goal and we expect nothing less."

The Texans raised eyebrows by trading linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Philadelphia Eagles, but Watt believes the defense won't skip a beat.

"I think initially there was a little bit of a shock factor, but now that we've been through the OTAs and Bradie James has come in and really filled that role as well as he possibly could," he said. "We're going to be just fine. We're going to have no issues from that.

"DeMeco's a great guy and he's going to have a heck of a career in Philly, but we're going to be just fine."

Watt and other NFL players are visiting a Los Angeles school on Monday as part of the NFL Play 60 campaign.


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