Monday, September 15, 2014

J.J. Watt catches TD pass for Texans: The Vrabel Effect

September 15, 2014

By Tania Ganguli

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texans defensive end J.J. Watt can do it all.

Turns out, not just on defense.

The Texans took an early lead over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday with a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a wide-open Watt. It was Watt's first professional offensive touchdown.

"My goal in the offseason is to create the best athlete I can create and give it to the coaches and say here, use it how you want," Watt said. "... Today they used it a little bit on offense."

The NFL's highest-paid defensive player made the play one week after one of the best games of his career. In Week 1, Watt notched a sack, batted pass, two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a blocked extra point.

In the Week 2 win over the Raiders, he lined up twice on the goal line on offense, once to block for running back Arian Foster and once to catch the game's first touchdown.

"We've been working on that for a while," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "You've got a guy there who's such a great athlete, 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, got really good hands. You should probably try to get him in there once in a while on offense."

Watt, who initially played tight end in college, hasn't scored a touchdown on an offensive play since his senior year of high school when he played offense and defense.

It wasn't the first time Watt's worked in a goal-line package in practice. The Texans' previous coaching staff, though, never used it in a game, so Watt stopped lobbying to play offense upon their departure.

Their current coaching staff, though, has some experience using a talented defensive player in on goal line plays. Houston's linebackers coach is Mike Vrabel, a former All Pro linebacker. While with the New England Patriots and then Kansas City Chiefs, Vrabel caught 10 passes - all of them for touchdowns.

"He's one that definitely suggested these things to us throughout the offseason," O'Brien said of Vrabel.

Watt, too, got some tips from Vrabel.

"It was a cool experience," Watt said. "I feel like a little kid."

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