On Tuesday, NFL Insiders reported that Houston Texans' defensive lineman J.J. Watt will be spending some time on the sidelines after he re-injured his back during his team's week three loss to the New England Patriots.
He will likely be placed on the injured reserve list, meaning he could return for a late season playoff run if he is able to recover in time. However, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport has said he could be out for the rest of the season.
The Texans lose a big playmaker with Watt on the sidelines, so several other players on the team need to step up to help the team stay in the playoff hunt until he returns. Here are three players that need to step up their game while the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is out.
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The obvious player that needs to step up is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The first overall pick from the 2014 Draft own NFL career has been plagued with injuries too, but with Watt out, now would be the perfect time to show how much of a playmaker he truly is.
Next year will be his last season on his rookie contract, so if he wants to earn the big money he'll have to step up his play. His versatility could allow him to finally have the season Houston expected him to have when they drafted him and take up a bigger role.
The defensive end will be doubled up on pass rush defense, so now would be the perfect time for him to demonstrate his skills and ability to be an impactful player on this Texans defense.
Another first rounder that needs to step up in Watt's absence is Whitney Mercilus. The linebacker was a big part of the Texans defense last season, earning career highs in combined tackles (52) and sacks (12).
The 26-year-old already has the added pressure with Brian Cushing out for a couple more weeks due to a partially torn MCL, and to also show that last season wasn't just a one-off. Watt's time on the sidelines would be the right opportunity to show his worth.
The last player is an offensive player in the form of Brock Osweiler. The quarterback has had a good start to the season helping the team go 2-1, but last week's shutout against New England can't be repeated.
Osweiler failed to get the ball moving against top competition, which resulted in a lot of critics deeming the Texans as playoff pretenders. They were outplayed by the Patriots and the 25-year-old needs to make sure that doesn't happen again, otherwise, it leaves the division wide open.
With Watt out, Osweiler should be stepping up to show he is worth the $72 million contract the Texans gave him this past offseason, and that he can be the face of this franchise.