HOUSTON — The Houston Texans activated star defensive end J.J. Watt from the physically unable to perform list Saturday, and waived 18 players.

Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed the entire preseason after having back surgery in July. He has started every game in his five-year career and is expected to start next Sunday’s opener against Chicago.

Coach Bill O’Brien said Friday that Watt was doing much better than a couple of weeks ago and that it looks “looks decent” for him to play against the Bears. Watt hasn’t spoken to the media in a month, but when he did talk to reporters at the start of training camp he noted that he doesn’t necessarily need preseason work to play in Week 1.

“In 2012, I missed all of training camp and didn’t have a problem there,” he said on July 31. “I don’t see this being a problem. I don’t plan on missing my first game now, but I can’t promise it. I’m going to do everything I can.”

Also activated from the PUP list was veteran offensive tackle Duane Brown, who has been rehabbing a torn quadriceps. Brown probably isn’t as far along in his recovery as Watt and could miss Week 1.

Brown, Houston’s left tackle for the last eight seasons, said last week he’s feeling better, but wouldn’t put a percentage on his chances of playing against Chicago.

“We’re not going to do numbers. Just taking it a day at a time,” he said. “That’s something I don’t want to rush on. I want to make sure I’m Duane Brown that I’ve become over the years when I’m out there.”

Two veterans were released outright: receiver Cecil Shorts III and safety Antonio Allen.

Running backs Akeem Hunt and Kenny Hilliard and tackle Jeff Adams were among other players waived by Houston to get the roster down to 53 players.


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