Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
The Texans provide a statement from head coach Bill O'Brien discussing Jadeveon Clowney's participation in the team's first preseason game:
"He'll start? Really? That's news to me. We'll see when the game starts." O'Brien on Clowney starting.— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 7, 2014
James Palmer of CSNHouston.com previously provided a synopsis of Clowney discussing his status for the Texans' first preseason game:
Clowney said he will play and start vs Arizona— James Palmer (@JPalmerCSN) August 7, 2014
Earlier in the day, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle confirmed Clowney's status for today's practice:
Jadeveon Clowney practiced for the first time in five days Thursday.
Clowney is listed as the Texans’ starting weakside outside linebacker on the team’s unofficial depth chart for Saturday’s preseason opener at Arizona.
Updates from Sunday, Aug. 3
Nick Scurfield confirms Jadeveon Clowney's status for today's practice after leaving yesterday due to injury:
Clowney isn't practicing today, but damn, that's a big dude #Texans— Nick Scurfield (@NickScurfield) August 3, 2014
The Houston Texans may have a big void to fill in the immediate future, as rookie pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney suffered an injury to his upper right leg during the team's training camp, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston:
Jadeveon Clowney, who was icing his upper right leg near his waist, leaves practice field on a cart.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 2, 2014
Tania Ganguli of ESPN reports that the injury is believed to be Clowney's hip:
Clowney has been on the trainer's table for a few minutes. Has an ice pack on what looks like the hip flexor area. #Texans— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 2, 2014
After practice, head coach Bill O'Brien talked about the injury, according to Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle:
O'Brien said Clowney wasn't seriously injured, according to CSN Houston's Dave Zangaro:
OB said they're just trying to manage Clowney. I asked him if Clowney tweaked something today. OB said no.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaro) August 2, 2014
Smith also noted that Clowney is on a rep count:
#Texans' O'Brien said Clowney is on a "pitch count." Reps being counted. Team trying to monitor his activity, which was already restricted.— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) August 2, 2014
Clowney was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft and is viewed as a generational talent due to his combination of size, strength and speed. With defensive end J.J. Watt also in place, the Texans have all the makings of an elite defense for many years to come.
Despite Clowney's all-world skill set, he wasn't viewed as a lock to be taken with the top selection. Some of that had to do with the fact that Clowney struggled through his junior season at South Carolina. After racking up 13 sacks as a sophomore, Clowney got to the quarterback just three times in 2013.
Some believed that related to a possible lapse in effort, but that may not have been the case. According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, Clowney revealed that he played the entire 2013 campaign with a sports hernia:
Jadeveon Clowney told @Gil_Brandt he played w/ the sports hernia all last year. And that the surgery for it was his first ever operation.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 26, 2014
That explained Clowney's issues to some degree, but it also created an entirely new problem. Per NFL.com's Marc Sessler, Clowney underwent surgery to correct the sports hernia in June.
Head coach Bill O'Brien was among those who weren't particularly concerned about the procedure in regard to Clowney's ability to recover and be back in time for training camp, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
"It was the best thing for J.D. and the best thing for our team and the best thing for our organization," O'Brien said.
"He'll be ready to go for training camp. That's about all I'll say about that."
O'Brien's feeling on the manner was initially proved correct, as the Texans did not place Clowney on the physically unable to perform list when camp started, per Ganguli:
Jadeveon Clowney won't be on the physically unable to perform list to start camp. Great sign for the OLB who had June surgery. #Texans— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 21, 2014
With that said, the time that Clowney did miss may have put him behind the eight ball a bit. It also may have left him susceptible to further injuries since he was forced to play catch-up and wasn't necessarily as prepared for the regular season as many of his teammates.
Injuries are bound to happen in a sport as physical as football, but it is only natural that questions will persist regarding Clowney's durability. That may not be fair, but that is the nature of the beast when it comes to a highly touted player with a great deal of money invested on his behalf.
If Clowney is forced to miss an extended period of time, then the Texans may have trouble replacing him. Watt is the type of player who is capable of picking up the slack, but he can only do so much. There may not be another player in the entire league who has a skill set similar to Clowney's.
From the Texans' perspective, though, the focus must be on being cautious and ensuring that Clowney heals properly before returning. Clowney is a huge part of the team's present and future, so there is no point in taking unnecessary risks.
As it stands currently, however, there are plenty of fans and people involved with the Texans organization who are hoping that this is just a minor bump in the road.
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