The Texans' defensive end, who did a 59½-inch box jump in a video that went viral this July, enters this season with huge expectations after racking up 20½ sacks and NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012.
DAN PATRICK:Are you an entertainer in addition to being a player?
J.J. WATT: Pregame there's a lot of that. And after you make a big play. But you have to make the plays or nobody is entertained.
DP:Who's the person in your life who will tell you no?
JJW: My family and my friends. My best friend from high school. And then my teammates. You go through celebrations and they'll give you a yes or no. I definitely don't have all yes men in my life. That would be a bad way to go.
DP:Does your dad still yell at you?
JJW: Oh, yeah. I don't think that will ever change.
DP:What if I had told you five years ago you would be Defensive Player of the Year?
JJW: I would have said that would be awesome and that would mean all the work I put in was worth it. There've been a lot of things that I've given up and it'd be nice to know it wasn't for nothing.
DP:Why'd you put out the jumping video?
JJW: I love doing stuff like that. I love doing things that people don't think you should be able to do. Just a little reminder that I work hard in the off-season.
DP:How high is your vertical?
JJW: At the combine it was 37.
DP:Could you win an NFL slam dunk contest?
JJW: Probably not. I can't do it through the legs. Somebody in the league could and that would win.
DP:If all goes well, what's a reasonable total for how many sacks you'll have this year?
JJW: I can't do that. I don't give out the ultimate goals. I do have a goal list, and it's a big number.
DP:Over or under 30?
JJW: Under. Thirty? I don't know if we're going to see that for a while.
DP:Is it getting tougher to know where to hit a QB?
JJW: The window is getting smaller and smaller. You can't go for the head or the legs. You have to aim directly for the belt buckle. But if you hit him in the chest and he ducks his head, you get fined. You just have to go out and play your game.
DP:How many offensive plays will you be in this season?
JJW: My guess is zero.
DP:Do you still lobby for that?
JJW: I've been lobbying since the day I got to the Texans, and it hasn't worked yet. I would be all for it, but I'm not holding my breath.
DP:Could you be an All-Pro tight end?
JJW: If I had the training and I put in all the film and put in as much effort as I do for defensive end, I think I'd be a pretty darn good tight end.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told me he's unfazed by rumors that he took PEDs. "For my name to come up doesn't surprise me at all," Peterson said. "Especially the way I bounced back from injury. But it doesn't bother me. It's an honor." ... Rays manager Joe Maddon acknowledged that while you can statistically compare Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw with Sandy Koufax, the two lefties are very different. "Kershaw's got a little funk in his delivery," Maddon said. "It's not the fluid motion Koufax had. He's got this little thing that makes him hard to pick up." ... Jimmie Johnson believes NASCAR is safer than the NFL. "We have a lot more foam inside our helmets," Johnson told me. "The contact our heads make are with other big pieces of foam [inside the car]. We're not making forceful contact with something coming from a different direction. Concussions are far less of an issue."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JOHN BIEVER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WATT, PETERSON)
PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP (MADDON)
JERRY MARKLAND/GETTY IMAGES (JOHNSON)