The second-year quarterback said Wednesday that he has met or surpassed the physical goals he set at the beginning of the Texans' organized team activities in mid-April.
"The knee is doing good," Watson said. "I'm able to do some things on the field with the team, physical-wise. For the nine-week goal that we put in from the beginning, I'm pretty much where I want to be. I'm kinda past it inside in the weight room, mentally, and also on the field. So everything's going smoothly right now."
Watson had surgery on his right ACL just seven months ago after he tore it in an early November practice. At the beginning of the on-field portion of OTAs that began at the end of May, Watson took the field with his teammates for the first time since his surgery.
One of the steps forward Watson was able to take this spring was practicing without a brace on his right knee, which he did this week for the first time in the practices that have been open to the media.
Watson said "it's cool" to have surpassed his initial offseason goals, but his mindset is to never be satisfied with where he is.
"I feel like I can be better and will get better," Watson said. "But like you said, those nine weeks, I've gained a lot on and off the field -- mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually -- and being able to take my game, and just me as a person, to another level."
Watson was having a historic rookie campaign before his season-ending injury and was on pace to shatter the NFL record for passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback (26). At the time of his injury, Watson was tied for the NFL lead with 19 touchdown passes. In seven games, Watson threw for 1,699 yards and eight interceptions.
This spring, Watson has participated in seven-on-seven drills but has sat out the Texans' team drills involving players rushing the passer. Watson has said all offseason that he expects to be ready to go at full strength by training camp and be the starting quarterback for the Texans' season-opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 9.
Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said even though Watson is ahead of schedule, he and the coaching staff will make sure they're being "intelligent" with the way they ease the young quarterback back in this summer.
"You can't throw the kitchen sink at him when he comes back -- just thinking that all of a sudden, snap a finger and he's back to full go," O'Brien said. "I think we'll have a really good plan for how many reps he gets relative to practice, relative to the preseason games. We're gonna talk a lot about that over the next couple of days here as a staff with everybody -- with [general manager] Brian Gaine and our medical staff, everybody.
"But I do feel that -- when it comes from a mental standpoint, I feel really good about what we're gonna be able to throw at him from a playbook standpoint."