HOUSTON — J.J. Watt brushed off the fact that he’ll be playing against the New England Patriots on Sunday with a broken left ring finger.

“It’s not going to bother me too much. It’s broken but not bad,” he said wiggling the bandaged digit. “It’s just a finger, if it was anything else it would be a problem.”

Some might cringe at the thought of playing football with a broken finger, but after missing 13 games last season following his second back surgery, this injury doesn’t seem as if it’s a big deal to Houston’s star defensive end.

He noted that the break hasn’t really made that much of a difference because he already had a problem with that finger before he broke it in Houston’s season-opening loss to Jacksonville.

“(It) actually doesn’t bother me a whole lot because I haven’t had use of that finger for a long time because I tore a tendon on it a few years back on it,” he said. “So it wasn’t very useful anyway. I don’t really need it that much so it doesn’t bother me.”

Watt and the Texans (1-1) are looking to end a six-game skid against the Patriots and get their first win against New England since 2010 on Sunday.

The Patriots beat Houston twice last season with a 27-0 win in the regular season and a 34-16 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The regular-season game against the Patriots in 2016 was Watt’s last before landing on injured reserve for the first time in his career.

He said returning to Gillette Stadium won’t mean anything extra even though it was where his season ended last year.

“Until you guys just brought it up I honestly hadn’t thought about it … I’m so far beyond all that stuff,” he said. “I’m so far beyond the injury and comeback and all of that stuff. I’m just playing football. I’m just enjoying it and loving it and having fun. I just enjoy being an athlete again, not having to worry about any of that.”

Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, said his first game this season was a bit of a struggle, but that he felt more like himself in a win over the Bengals on Thursday night.

“I settled in more,” he said. “In that first game there were a lot of emotions and trying to do so much and trying to win the game on every, single play instead of just settling down and doing my job and executing the way I know how to execute. So I think that’s what it was. Like: ‘OK take a deep breath, you know how to play this game.'”

New England coach Bill Belichick raved about Watt and knows his team will have its hands full dealing with him on Sunday.

“Just a tremendous player,” he said. “There’s a reason why he’s been the player of the year in this league multiple times and very deserving of it. He’s a force out there. He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players I’ve ever coached against.”

Watt looks to be returning to form as the Texans prepare for their third game, and coach Bill O’Brien and his teammates have been complimentary of his play.

However, there has been something missing for the man who led the NFL in sacks in 2012 and 2015 and has 76 in his career. Watt has seven tackles and two quarterback hits, but has yet to record a sack in 2017.

“It’s more important for me to feel like myself than it is to get stats,” he said. “As long as we win I don’t really care. And especially the last game on Thursday night I felt like myself. So as long as I play like that and go out there the sacks will come.”

A couple of minutes later he was asked if teams are doing anything different to slow him down this season and he joked about his failure to take down the quarterback so far.

“Since I don’t have any sacks maybe they’ll let me go this time,” he said.


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