Defensive end J.J. Watt wasn't on the Metrodome playing field with his Houston Texan teammates Friday but a whole bunch of Edina High School football players saw him up close.
They got a post-practice speech from Watt, too.
The 6-5, 295-pound Watt and a few others not suiting up for the game against the Vikings showed up during Edina’s morning workout at Kuhlman Field. They shared a grass field with the school’s ninth-graders, stretching and doing sprints for 25 to 30 minutes.
“They wanted to fly under the radar,’’ said Edina varsity coach Reed Boltmann, who had been asked by team officials earlier in the week if the players could share the field. “They didn’t want a lot of publicity.’’
The Edina location apparently stemmed from its proximity to the team’s hotel in Bloomington. Seven players showed up, including Watt, linebacker Brian Cushing and receiver Andre Johnson. None were scheduled to suit up Friday night for the team’s first exhibition game.
After the Texans finished their workout, Boltmann assembled his players, including varsity players practicing on a nearby turf field, and told them to take a knee. Edina started practice on Monday, a week ahead of most Minnesota schools, because the Hornets’ schedule has them playing on Aug. 23 as part of “zero week.’’
Watt, a Wisconsin native who played for the Badgers, spent about five minutes talking to players, welcoming them back to practice, exhorting them to work hard, dream big and “take care of business’’ in the classroom, Boltmann said.
Watt acknowledged his Midwestern upbringing and noted being in “NFC country.’’ He suggested that those looking for an AFC team to root for could adopt his Texans.
“You don’t see NFL players at your practice field,’’ said Boltmann, who called the impromptu visit and pep talk “a treat for our kids. It’s kind of a fun deal.’’