By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans must deal with a season-ending injury to J.J. Watt for the third time in four years.
But this time they’ll have to do it without Jadeveon Clowney after the top overall pick in 2014 was shipped to Seattle in an August trade.
Watt sustained an injury to a pectoral muscle on Sunday in a win over the Oakland Raiders that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
The injury comes after the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed the last 13 games of 2016 with a back injury which required surgery and played just five games in 2017 before breaking his leg. He played all 16 games last season and was a first-team All-Pro after finishing with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for losses.
Coach Bill O’Brien was asked who would be tasked with filling in for Watt as the team prepares to meet the Jaguars on Sunday in their first game in London.
“No one person is going to take the spot of a Hall of Fame player,” O’Brien said. “But at the end of the day these things happen, and we’ve got to move forward and do what we have to do to win games and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do the best we can to put the players in the right position based on what their skillsets are.”
Rookie Charles Omenihu could be an option to play in Watt’s place after appearing in six games this season. The fifth-round pick has two sacks and has forced two fumbles this season.
“He works hard,” O’Brien said. “I think for any rookie it’s about consistency from play to play, being as consistent as you possibly can … doing it down after down is very important and it’s hard to do that as a rookie.”
Houston could also look to versatile outside linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin to move to defensive end with Watt out again. Mingo and Martin were both acquired in the trade for Clowney but have mostly been used on special teams this season.
Though the Texans have a day before Tuesday afternoon’s NFL trade deadline, don’t expect them to make a move to try and get someone in the wake of Watt’s injury. O’Brien, who also serves as the team’s general manager after Brian Gaine was fired this summer, said the chances of them making a deal before the deadline are slim to none.