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In Trying To Figure Out How Long J.J. Watt Will Be Out, Should Texans Fans Look To Dontari Poe?

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No two players are alike, but Dontari Poe's return from back surgery last year could prove instructive for Texans fans trying to decipher how long J.J. Watt could be out in 2016.

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By now, you've probably gone through most, if not all, of the stages of grief in response to last night's news that J.J. Watt just underwent back surgery. Will Carroll reports that the specific surgical procedure Watt had was a microdiscectomy.

You know what other defensive lineman had that same surgery almost exactly a year ago? The Kansas City Chiefs' Dontari Poe.

Shortly after Poe went under the knife, Joel Thorman spoke with Dr. David Chao about the likely timeline for Poe's return to the field. This is what Chao said at the time:

"Rehab could go much better or much worse than expected but three months sounds like a typical recovery period for a player. That would put Poe's return around October 15 or between Week 5 and 6, which matches up with the timeline that Andy Reid hinted at with him returning "in the early part" of the season."

That would seem to be closer to the "up to 10 weeks" time period Mike Garafolo mentioned in his tweet last night, as opposed to initial reports that Watt wouldn't miss any regular season games. But guess what?  Poe wasn't out until Week Five or Six. He played in the season opener last year (coincidentally against your Houston Texans).

Sounds good, right? Well, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. As Will Carroll noted in the article linked above, Poe"...showed pretty significant deficits until near midseason." That's not just an idle observation, as Poe himself recently said this about his play last year:

"During the season I didn’t get to 100 percent," Poe told me in a phone interview on Thursday. "Football wise I started playing better around Week 10 or something like that. It was kind of a crash course last year. Right after the surgery I got into as much rehab as I could and I was back at it. So it kinda came to me fast."

Of course, every player is different, so J.J. Watt's path is not necessarily going to be the same as Dontari Poe's. At this time, however, Texans fans are looking for information, and even anecdotal data helps. If you're searching for a reason to stay positive about Watt's future, I'll leave you with this excerpt of Poe discussing how he feels a year post-surgery:

The question we care about now is how he’s feeling entering the 2016 season. The answer will make you smile.

"Right now is the best my back has felt in about two or three years," Poe said. "So I’m ready, I’m really ready."