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O'Brien: Watt irreplaceable, but Texans will fight on

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J.J. Watt's season sits in jeopardy, but that doesn't mean the Texans are bailing on 2016.

Despite their All-Universe defensive terror heading to injured reserve with a back injury, coach Bill O'Brien made it clear Wednesday that his players won't feel sorry for themselves.

"You can never replace the best player in NFL," O'Brien said. "At the same time, this is a team. We got a lot of good players."

Said O'Brien: "We're looking forward to the challenge ahead ... obviously, we all feel bad for him."

It's been a brutal stretch for Watt, who missed the entire preseason after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in late July. This latest setback could end his season, although an ounce of hope remains that Watt could return for a late-year playoff push.

"J.J. did absolutely everything he could do to get back to the field after surgery this summer ... he followed doctors' orders," O'Brien said, adding: "I have no idea when his back injury reoccurred."

Sunday will mark the first game Watt has ever missed, diminishing the potential of a talented defensive front still stocked with productive whirlwinds in the form of Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and upstart John Simon.

Still, Houston's offense boasts a laundry list of tantalizing skill-position talent with Lamar Miller playing well in the backfield and Pro Bowl wideout DeAndre Hopkins paired up with rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.

The Texans also play in the middling AFC South, where both Tennessee and Jacksonville appear unwilling to live up to the offseason hype. Both clubs still feel a year away, while the floating Colts have holes on both sides of the ball.

The Texans might be without their best player, but -- like the resilient Vikings in the NFC -- it's far too early to count Houston out.

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