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J.J. Watt: I questioned whether I would ever play again

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J.J. Watt briefly considered life without football after undergoing surgery to replace five muscles in his lower abdomen last January.

Watt had already been battling through a groin injury for six or seven weeks when he tore the core muscles so severely that he had to exit the Houston Texans' Wild Card Round matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"A few of (the abdominal muscles) were fully off the bone," Watt revealed Wednesday. "A few of them were partial torn. That was pretty serious stuff."

Following the surgery, just getting out of bed and walking down the hallway was almost unbearable.

"When I was in Philadelphia after the first surgery," Watt explained, "there were some days there where I really, really questioned whether or not I would ever be able to play again.

"There was a very low point there. It was tough. I was in a hotel room in Philadelphia for I think 10 days straight not being able to really walk or do anything. There was definitely a tough point there."

Those details shed light on Watt's April comments in which he hinted at an early NFL retirement, in the vain of Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders.

"When I made those comments, I'm dealing with all these different things, the broken hand, the back, everything," Watt continued. "At that point, you are kind of like 'I don't know if I can do this forever.' Now that I'm all fixed up, I feel good and I'm healthy.

"I'm not going to ever stand here and say I know when I am going to be done playing. It's year-by-year, it's day-by-day. I feel great and I love the game. As long as I love the game and as long as I love coming out to practice and playing with my teammates, I'm going to continue to do it."

After grinding through the grueling rehab in January and February, Watt described his July back surgery as "almost a fun challenge to overcome."

As opposed to the abdominal procedure, Watt insists there was "never a doubt" he would bounce back from the herniated disc surgery to play early this season.

Now that he has passed his physical and is cleared to practice, Watt is ready to do "anything and everything" he's asked to do in Sunday's season opener versus the Chicago Bears.

"I feel great. I feel no limitations whatsoever," Watt said. "My body actually feels better than it did for the second half of last season, obviously, with everything we were dealing with. I'm in a pretty good spot."

Despite the lingering groin injury, a midseason herniated disc and a broken hand in December, Watt never missed a game last year while racking up a league-leading 17.5 sacks en route to his unparalleled third Defensive Player of the Year award.

At this point, his pain threshold and ability to produce at a high level while playing through injury should be as unquestioned as his status as the NFL's dominant defensive force of the 21st century.

Now that Watt has regained his total freak strength again, Jay Cutler could be in for a long afternoon on Sunday.

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