HOUSTON -- J.J. Watt was excited about winning the home run derby portion of his charity softball game -- and finally beating punter Shane Lechler -- but it was even more exciting for the Houston Texans that he was out there at all.
Watt, who had two back surgeries in 2016, has said he has returned to his regular offseason training schedule. And on Saturday, before he took the field for the fifth-annual J.J. Watt Charity Classic, he said there was no concern about him swinging the bat.
"No, I feel fantastic," Watt said. "I've done more core work in the past eight months than I think just about anybody in the world. My core is about as tight and locked in as it can get at the moment. So I'm feeling all right swinging the bat.”
Watt did not appear limited at all on Saturday night and won the derby on a three-out swing-off, hitting two home runs in the first round and three in the final and four to win it all. He celebrated the victory by flinging his bat into the air.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year said he plans to limit his reps this season -- being smarter about how and when he uses his body -- to limit the chances of injury again. Prior to his second back surgery in late September, Watt had not missed a game in his first five NFL seasons.
"It mostly comes down to my workouts and just making sure that I'm very smart in my workouts and, like we talked about before, creating a plan where I don't put myself at risk," Watt said last month. "When you really think about it, football is a game of uncertainties. You go out there, you don't know how you're going to have to twist and run and turn. You can't really control what happens on the field. What I can control is my workouts. I can control what I am doing in the weight room, what I am doing on the practice field to make sure that I limit all those risks. That's what we control.
"We control the things we can control and then we go out there and play. We just let it fly. Obviously, you hope for the best."