Cardinals DE J.J. Watt to undergo potentially season-ending shoulder surgery

J.J. Watt was ruled out Wednesday for Thursday's night's game. It turns out Watt is likely to be gone for far longer than just Week 8.

The Arizona Cardinals defensive end is set to undergo shoulder surgery that could potentially end his season, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday night.

Watt's surgery is likely to require at least three months of recovery, Rapoport reported, and will end his 2021 regular season.

During the Cardinals' Week 7 win against his former team, the Houston Texans, Watt suffered a dislocated shoulder and other associated damage while attempting to tackle Davis Mills in the second quarter, Rapoport added. The defensive end played the second half despite the shoulder injury.

Rapoport reported Thursday that Watt's injuries were not limited to his shoulder. In all, Watt suffered a torn labrum, bicep, rotator cuff and separated shoulder.

Watt will undergo surgery in the middle of next week, Rapoport reported. Thereafter, he'll begin the rehab process. There's a chance Watt could return for a Cardinals postseason run, but Rapoport characterized it as a "long shot."

Watt, a three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has 16 tackles, a sack and 10 quarterback hits in seven starts with Arizona this season. Though those stats might not jump off the page, he's been a driving force in the Cardinals' defensive improvement. Heading into Thursday night's game against the visiting Packers, the Cardinals boast the No. 4 overall defense in the NFL and the No. 1 scoring defense.

Watt didn't practice Monday through Wednesday this week and was ruled out for Thursday's game on Wednesday afternoon. Hours later, news broke of his impending surgery.

Thursday night will mark Watt's first absence from Arizona's starting lineup since joining the Cardinals this season and just when he'll return is a great unknown.

Though Rapoport reports this is a new injury, dealing with and coming back from injuries is nothing new for Watt.

In July of 2016, Watt underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc, and though he was on the field for Week 1 of the Texans' 2016 season, he would miss the final 13 games of the season when he had to undergo back surgery once again. More injury travails held him to just five games during the 2017 Texans season due to a broken leg. Two seasons later in 2019, Watt's run was halted after eight weeks by a torn pectoral. In unfathomable fashion, Watt returned for the Houston postseason.

What the five-time Pro Bowler has done before certainly bodes well for what lies ahead. Alas, beginning Thursday night, the Cardinals' season carries on without their ballyhooed veteran free-agent addition, who inked a two-year deal to join Arizona ahead of the current campaign.

Watt's first (regular) season in the desert has come to an abrupt end. What awaits in the 32-year-old's storied career remains to be seen, but perhaps it's one more implausible comeback.

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