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J.J. Watt (pec) could return for playoffs or even sooner

When Texans star J.J. Watt went down with a torn pec in late October, he took to Twitter to confirm the news: "Absolutely gutted that I won't be able to finish the season with my guys."

Well, there has been a plot twist.

Sources say that Houston is saving its final injured reserve/designated to return spot for Watt, and that there is real optimism from all parties that he can return for the playoffs. Yes, Watt could be back just three months or earlier after tearing his pec.

There is even a possibility, albeit slim, that Watt, who had four sacks in eight games to go with a whopping 20 QB hits before his injury, could be back for Week 17.

Earlier in the season, the Texans activated tight end Jordan Thomas from injured reserve, meaning they have one more spot they can use.

They are keeping it warm for Watt, in part because of his optimism for a fast recovery. He'll have another MRI in a few weeks to gauge where he is.

Watt is doing incredibly well in rehab, sources say, and feels like he could go out there and play now even if that's not realistic.

For the playoffs? It could be.

He may not be himself when he returns, but having some Watt is better than no Watt at all.

Plus, with a worst-case scenario that he goes out and tears it again, he can have a relatively routine surgery and still be ready for 2020.

Either way, the notion that the Texans could get one of their best players back is something to watch.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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