Expectations are high for Houston Texans rookie Jadeveon Clowney. However, the 2014 No. 1 overall pick is making news just days before his regular-season debut for a concussion he says was suffered in a practice session against the Denver Broncos.
According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, Clowney's injury occurred on Aug. 20 and he was "seen shaking his head on a trainer’s table after taking off his pads." He said it took about two weeks before recovering.
Clowney didn't sound like he was concerned about missing any time in Week 1, saying, "It was just something that happened on the field in Denver. So we’ve moved on to Washington now."
The Texans never publicly disclosed the nature of his injury. He was held out of the team's last two preseason games with "an undisclosed injury." Smith reported that Clowney was cleared to play against Washington on Sunday:
Smith's report about Clowney's injury comes right after the NFL said that concussions were down 13 percent and concussions from helmet-to-helmet contact were down 23 percent in 2013, via The Associated Press and ESPN.com.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is quoted in the report from an appearance on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike show on Thursday, said that the drop in concussions isn't an accident or a coincidence:
I think the players have adjusted. The coaches have adjusted. The game has adjusted. And the game is better for it.
There have always been changes in techniques throughout our evolution, and that's been great for the game, keeping players as healthy as possible. Protect them and prevent them from injuries. The game has really thrived.
You can also see the difference in the terminology that gets used to describe head injuries. Mike Klis of The Denver Post, talking about Wes Welker's concussion, noted on Twitter that there's no longer a difference in the kind of concussion suffered:
Five years ago NFL would have referred to Welker's injury as "mild" concussion. Broncos and league now say theres no such thing— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) August 27, 2014
While no one will deny the NFL has taken steps to make the game safer, specifically as it relates to head injuries, there's only so much that can be done because it's a contact sport. Clowney's injury is the latest example of that. He was injured during a scrimmage with another team, when the players shouldn't be going all-out.
Playing on the offensive or defensive line ensures contact on every play. Clowney will learn to protect himself better with more experience. The good news is he's been cleared to play in Week 1, so hopefully this is just a minor bump in the road of what will turn out to be a long, successful NFL career.
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