J.J. Watt: Texans not the same team I remember

Erick W. Rasco / Sports Illustrated / Getty

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt is set to face the Houston Texans for the first time since leaving the club he called home for a decade.

Watt, who was named Defensive Player of the Year three times while making 128 regular-season appearances with the Texans from 2011-2020, believes there's something special about Sunday's game but downplayed its significance given the fact that Houston is going through a rebuild.

"There's obviously something more to it," Watt said Thursday, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. "I don't think that it's what people may think it is because, I mean, you look at the roster and you look at the guys that are there. I mean, it's been so massively turned over that there's only a handful of guys that are even there from last year that I played with.

"So, it's not like, I'm like, 'Oh, I want to go and beat my old team' or 'Oh, I can't wait to face this guy,' because it's not the same team. It's not the same organization that I remember and that I was a part of."

The 1-5 Texans began their rebuild this year after finishing the 2020 season 4-12, which led to Watt asking to be released. Houston hired a new head coach in David Culley and a new general manager in Nick Caserio during the offseason and has since parted ways with several veteran players.

"There's so many guys I don't know," said Watt, who inked a two-year deal with the Cardinals in March.

Houston, which released longtime pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus and wide receiver and return specialist Andre Roberts earlier this week, likely isn't done moving on from veterans with the Nov. 2 trade deadline around the corner. Players like linebacker Zach Cunningham - who inked a big extension before Culley and Caserio came aboard - have seen limited playing time so far this season and could be moved.

Meanwhile, Arizona is the NFL's only unbeaten team after six weeks. Watt has racked up 15 tackles, one sack, and two pass breakups through six appearances.

J.J. Watt: Texans not the same team I remember
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