After watching his younger brothers compete in the AFC wild card round, J.J. Watt will suit up for the Cardinals in Monday night’s wild card game against the Rams after the team announced he was being activated off injured reserve. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year will take the field less than three months after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Watt has not played since getting injured during the Cardinals’ Week 7 win over the Texans, the team Watt starred on for a decade before signing with Arizona last offseason. Watt had 16 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble before sustaining the injury that sidelined him for the Cardinals’ final 10 games.
Watt will look to help the Cardinals’ defense contain a Rams offense that averaged 25 points in the teams’ two regular season matchups. The Cardinals recorded a 30-20 win over the Rams in Week 4 before Los Angeles returned the favor with a 30-23 win in Week 14. The Rams’ offense was led that day by Matthew Stafford, who threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Per usual, Stafford’s favorite target was Cooper Kupp, who caught 13 of 15 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, when they advanced to the NFC Championship Game. Monday night’s game will be the ninth career playoff game for Watt, who recorded 28 tackles and six sacks in those games. Watt tallied a postseason career-high 2.5 sacks against then-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the divisional round of the 2012 playoffs.