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(Reuters) - Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt once again lived up to his ironman image when he said he planned to play in Sunday's home game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots despite a broken hand.
The reigning defensive player of the year did not practice with the team on Thursday, and instead worked with trainers on the side field wearing a cast on his left hand.
"I broke my hand in practice and will play in the game Sunday," Watt, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has started 76 consecutive games since making his National Football League debut in 2011, told reporters.
"I've played with worse than this before. Football is a game where things happen."
Asked how he would respond if Patriots players targeted his injured hand, the 26-year-old replied: "Let 'em try. Come at it. I'll take advantage of whatever you try to do."
Watt was also limited in practice on Wednesday, when he was listed with injuries to his groin and hand on the official report.
"I don't think it will affect him," said Texans coach Bill O'Brien.
Watt, who ranks third among active NFL defensive ends with his unbroken 76-game run, has 70-1/2 career sacks, 42 passes defended, 11 fumble recoveries and 13 forced fumbles.
The Texans (6-6) will bid for a fifth win in six games on Sunday when they face the formidable challenge of the (10-2) Patriots.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue