The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made for a strange 2020 so far, but Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt found a silver lining over the spring and summer months.
"My body feels as good as it's felt since probably 2014, 2015 somewhere around there," Watt said, via the team's website. "So I'm really looking forward to getting into camp and just getting to work."
Watt, 31, reflected on his offseason during a video press conference on Saturday. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most of the country since March, Watt admitted the benefits of a quarantine and the absence of distractions that came with it.
"I would say that the quarantine situation has given me literally nothing to do but work out every day," Watt said. "I mean, there's nothing else you can do. You can't go out. You can't go to the movies. You can't go out to eat. So the workout program for me this offseason has been awesome because I've had a full offseason to do my workouts exactly how I need to do them.
"I've been able to focus on my nutrition every single day. I've counted every single calorie the whole way, basically try to fully transform my body from the beginning of the offseason until now and it truly has been one of the best offseasons from a workout standpoint than I've ever had and I'm very, very pleased about it."
Watt's health has been paramount to the success of the Texans' defense over the course of his nine-year career. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, the mere presence of Watt forces opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks to take notice and adjust. In recent years, however, Watt's health has been a cause for concern. The nine-year veteran has been able to log only one full season the past four years, and Watt earned his fifth First-Team All-Pro recognition in that 2018 season where he started all 16 games.
With the Texans losing the likes of D.J. Reader this offseason via free agency, Watt will need to lead a young, unproven unit on the defensive line. In 2019, the Texans defense succumbed to their leakiness third-down and the red zone woes that plagued them all season when losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
Young players like Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson, Brandon Dunn, and rookie Ross Blacklock will need to step-up in 2020, and Watt will only further that process when on the field. Should he return to a prime form after a replenishing offseason, those same players will shine bright as a reflection of Watt's dominant play.
"We have a great group of guys," Watt said about the importance of leadership. "We have a great group of veterans leaders who hold everybody accountable, who understand how important it is for us to get this work in and who understand that the most prepared team this season and the most disciplined team is going to have success. We've done a great job with that and we're lucky to have great leaders."