HOUSTON (AP) — Nearly 11 months from his most recent NFL game Alex Ovechkin Jersey Kids , Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt isn’t hiding his eagerness to get back on the field.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t played since he suffered a broken left leg against Kansas City in Week 5 last season. The prior year, he missed the final 13 games of the 2016 season with a back injury that required surgery.

With his recent string of injuries, Watt said he has one major objective if coach Bill O’Brien lets him play in the team’s dress-rehearsal game against the Rams in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

“I want to come out healthy,” Watt said. “I want to be able to go on the field and then come back off the field.”

Sounds simple enough, right?

When the Texans selected pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft to complement Watt, the duo was expected to menace quarterbacks for years to come.

Four seasons later, however, the two have played in just 25 of 64 games together as Clowney dealt with injuries early in his career and Watt has struggled to stay on the field the past two years.

This summer, Watt has been active in practice and has shown glimpses of what made him great in four consecutive Pro Bowl seasons from 2012 to 2015. Last year, despite the injuries, he made his impact off the field, raising more than $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief. The accolades continued to roll in this offseason when he picked up the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year as well as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year honors for 2017.

Now nearly a year removed and feeling healthy, Watt has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2018 season.

“This year has been a lot better than last year,” Watt said. “Last year, we were up there (for training camp in West Virginia) for three weeks, then we were in New Orleans, and then we were stuck in Dallas with the hurricane. Just about anything is better than last year. This has been a good camp so far and we’re excited to have a strong finish.”

The Texans went back to West Virginia again this summer, but only for two weeks before returning to Houston for joint practices against San Francisco. O’Brien — who has been mum on Watt’s status for Saturday — said Watt looked good in the practices against the 49ers.

Clowney, who missed most of the offseason and training camp in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery in January, returned to practice on Monday.

Practicing alongside Watt again, Clowney is just as optimistic about the defense helping the Texans bounce back from a 4-12 record last season.

“The sky is the limit for this defense,” Clowney said. “We just have to come to play like we do — week in and week out and try and stay healthy. If we stay healthy, I don’t see much bad going wrong with this defensive line and this secondary we put together. I’m excited about this team and this defense.”

Watt said he’s excited about Houston’s offseason pickup in safety Tyrann Mathieu, praising the new addition’s value as a teammate and playmaker.

“There’s guys all over the place,” Watt said. “We have a chance to be a very good defense, but it’s up to us to go out there and execute and do it. It’s easy to look on paper and say we’re going to be good Youth Josh Jackson Jersey , but it’s another thing to go out there and perform.”

While Watt might be chomping at the bit to get a taste of game action on Saturday, he said as a pass rusher, he doesn’t have any specific reintroductions to the game such as a receiver getting hit for the first time or a linebacker making the first tackle after a lengthy absence.

“I mean, I’m not sure I need to get pancake-blocked or anything like that,” Watt said with a grin. “You just want to hit the pads. You want to try and make a tackle and get back up. You have to get up, get back in line and try to make another play.”

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees has his three most productive receiving targets back from last season — and then some.

The addition of free agent Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre’Quan Smith, combined with the four-game suspension of 2017 rushing leader Mark Ingram, has set the stage for the Saints to revert to a more pass-heavy attack — if they choose.

Last season, Brees’ 4,334 yards passing were his fewest as a Saint, but that could be attributed to New Orleans often playing with leads and controlling the clock with an effective running game.

Still, leading receiver Michael Thomas made the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season with 1,245 yards and five touchdowns, Ted Ginn Jr. had one of his best seasons with 787 yards and four TDs, and versatile running back Alvin Kamara was the offensive rookie of the year in large part because of his 826 yards and five TDs receiving.

“Forget about the new guys for a second and just start with Mike Thomas and Kamara and Drew Brees,” said Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter, whose Buccaneers open the regular season at New Orleans on Sunday. “Right there, you’ve got a passing game.”

The 6-foot-3 Meredith is eager to regain his form of two seasons ago, when he was Chicago’s leading receiver. He missed 2017 with torn knee ligaments and also has been limited this preseason. On Wednesday, Meredith practiced fully and said he feels ready to immediately contribute to the offense.

“First of all, when you’ve got a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback at the reins, anything is possible,” Meredith said. “Drew’s all about timing, so right now we’re making up for lost time kind of, me and him specifically Jerry Rice Jersey , getting our chemistry, our timing down. A lot of those windows (to complete passes) open up and close real fast.”

“Coming back this year feels great,” Meredith added. “I just need to pick up where I left off.”

Ginn said he has been impressed by the speed of the 6-2 Smith as well as how quickly the third-round draft choice out of Central Florida showed he could be productive in preseason games.

Smith was New Orleans’ leading receiver in the preseason with 15 catches for 189 yards and a TD. Meredith caught only two passes in limited action, but one reception went for 56 yards and the other for a 16 yards touchdown.

Ginn said Smith and Meredith together could add “a lot” to New Orleans’ passing game.

“They bring height. They bring speed. They make great catches,” Ginn said. “With Cam going, fighting back from the injury he had, Tre’Quan coming in and learning the system, I think they all came in and picked it up like they were supposed to, and they started playing faster and faster as the weeks go on. As this thing keeps going, as this boat keeps floating, you should see a lot more out of them.”

Brees suggested that the additions of new receivers, combined with Kamara’s effectiveness as both a runner and receiver, should only make it tougher for defenses to anticipate where the ball is going on a given play.

“We are rotating guys all over the place and so it’s about creating mismatches. It’s about creating confusion for the defense,” Brees said. “Cam Meredith is coming along. He missed a lot of the offseason just coming off the knee (surgery) into training camp, and we’re just continuing to use that time to develop trust, confidence, chemistry. Tre’Quan’s gotten a ton of (snaps) from training camp until now. I think both those guys, as we move along here, will become an integral part of what we do.”

In Week 1, the Saints will be matching up against a Bucs defense that ranked last against the pass last season. Yet Koetter made it clear his defense couldn’t afford to sleep on the Saints’ running game, either. After all, much of the credit for New Orleans’ success on the ground last season was attributed to a formidable offensive line and receivers who block well.

“If you don’t stop their running game, (Saints) coach (Sean) Payton is going to keep running the ball on you,” Koetter said.

Notes: The Saints had only two running backs practicing on Wednesday following their decision to waive rookie Boston Scott and sign offensive lineman Michael Ola. The addition of Ola came as starting left guard Andrus Peat missed practice with a quadriceps injury.