Wisconsin native J.J. Watt captivated by Texans' upcoming trip to Green Bay

-- For J.J. Watt, returning to his roots this summer couldn't be any sweeter.

The Wisconsin native and current Houston Texans defensive end will be making his first career trip to Lambeau Field in August for the preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 8. He'll also participate in a string of joint practices on Aug. 5-6.

Watt, who played in all 16 games for the Texans last season for the first time since 2015, will get a chance to relive some of his childhood training camp experiences -- but rather than being the bright-eyed kid eager to interact with the players, he'll be the center of attention for many young fans.

"Being a kid growing up, I went to one day of training camp and I watched from the fence and I went over to the parking lot, threw the T-shirt over for autographs," Watt said on Friday at the Am-Fam Championship, according to Zach Heilprin of The Zone. "I did all that. I watched them bike over, and I'll never forget looking through that fence and thinking to myself, 'Those guys do this for a living.'

"That was one of the moments that kind of led me down that path to where I am today."

The only time in his nine-year career that Watt has matched up against the Packers in the regular season was 2012 -- a 42-24 thumping in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers decimated a Watt-led defense for six passing touchdowns. Watt was injured the last time the Texans played in Green Bay, which also resulted in a loss in 2016.

Watt graduated from Pewaukee High School in Pewaukee, Wisconsin before earning a scholarship to play as a tight end at Central Michigan. He earned another scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he would solidify his status as a pass rusher. In two years with the Badgers, Watt closed out his collegiate career with 11.5 sacks and 106 tackles -- 36.5 of them for a loss of yards.

"For me to go back there and to practice there, and be able to play in Lambeau, it all comes full circle for me. It's going to be a really, really cool experience. I'm more excited that we're playing a preseason game than I am a regular season [game] because I get to do the practice experience and live out that dream I had as a kid."

While Watt basks in the nostalgia, Matt LaFleur will be basking in his first meaningful experience as the Packers' new head coach. LaFleur, an offensive-minded coach, will evidently need to devise a strategic method for his offense to attack Watt and the Texans defense.

Of course, with it being the first contest of the preseason, don't expect the Packers' starters -- or starters on either side -- to play extensively. It's plausible, however, that Rodgers may see a slight increase in playing time this preseason as opposed to recent years, simply because of the trial and error it will take to master a new offense in real time.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (5)

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Lphill's picture

June 25, 2019 at 05:40 am

I guess TJ watt thought he would be living his dream too but instead Kevin King made it a nightmare .

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Savage57's picture

June 25, 2019 at 07:45 am

Was it too much to ask of the Packers to make the childhood dream of playing for them come true for at least one of Wisconsin's first family of pro football?

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NMPF's picture

June 25, 2019 at 08:23 am

Riveting

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IceBowl's picture

June 25, 2019 at 10:05 am

I am glad that Lambeau means so much to JJ.

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Rossonero's picture

June 25, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Is it just me, or is there anyone else who'd like to see JJ Watt suit up as a Packer, even in the twilight of his career?

It's possible. Deshaun Watson, drafted in 2017, will probably get a big money extension by 2021. DeAndre Hopkins' contract runs out in 2022 and he'll only be 30 by then! WRs obviously have a longer shelf life. By coincidence, Watt's contract runs through the 2021 season, and he'll be 32 by the time his contract runs out.

In other words, the Texans can't afford him, Watson and Hopkins without making some serious sacrifices.

They obviously will keep Watson, so it comes down to either Hopkins or Watt. Given Watt's injury history and a longer shelf life for WRs, it's reasonable to say they keep Hopkins and let Watt go.

Let's say he actually finishes his contract with the Texans. He'd be a free agent in spring 2022 and still only be 32 years old. Now, I know he's had a lot more injuries than other future Hall of Famers like Reggie White or Julius Peppers, but my line of thinking is similar in that, if I'm Brian Gutekunst, why not sign a future HOF pass rusher who'd obviously LOVE to wear the green and gold.

That quote about coming full circle is like him hinting to the Packers, "hey guys, don't forget about me. I'd love to play here." There's probably a greater chance he gets released to protect cap space and assuming he doesn't have further serious injuries, then he's absolutely someone the Packers should consider signing for a fair and reasonable price.

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