J.J. Watt‘s return seems to be going as well as could be expected.

The Houston Texans‘ star defensive end will play in the club’s preseason opener next week, head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Saturday, according to John McClain of The Houston Chronicle.

That will mark Watt’s first live game action since September,

Rosters for the first game of the exhibition slate are typically meaningless. Key players are often sidelined even if they aren’t dealing with an injury in hopes of keeping everyone healthy for the regular season.

But the fact Watt will be available for Wednesday’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers, even if only for a few snaps, is a positive milestone in his recovery from the back injury that limited him to three games last season.

The Texans’ defense still finished atop the NFL rankings in his absence, and Watt will be a tremendous addition if he regains his All-Pro form in his return.

The former first-round pick came away with Defensive Player of the Year honors in an incredible three of four seasons before suffering the first major injury of his pro career.

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