A Healthy David Clowney Should Give Jets Plenty To Smile About

Cecil HarrisCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14:  David Clowney #87 of the New York Jets celebrates his touchdown with teammate Ryan McKee #69 against the St. Louis Rams during their preseason game at Giants Stadium on August 14, 2009  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

It should have come as no surprise to New York Jets fans that quarterback Mark Sanchez looked poised, sharp, and ready to lead in his preseason debut Friday night.

The Jets knew what they were doing when they traded up to the No. 5 slot in this year's draft and anointed the former USC star as their quarterback of the future.

But for Sanchez to truly win over football fans in the media capital of the world, he needs weapons.

And the player at the receiving end of Sanchez's 48-yard laser in the opening quarter of the 23-20 loss to the Rams has a chance to become the Jets' most expolsive receiver.

David Clowney could be the deep threat, and big-play man, the Jets sorely need.

Not only did Clowney beat a Rams cornerback down the right sideline to haul in Sanchez's deep pass, but he also flew past the St. Louis secondary to grab Erik Ainge's 50-yard pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"I guess they should have read the bio," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said about Clowney, while taking a friendly jab at the Rams. "He's pretty dang fast."

Pretty dang fast, indeed. But a great dancer, he's not.

Clowney's end-zone celebration looked as if someone had dropped a bee in his pants. He might want to just give the football to the nearest official next time.

As a receiver against the Rams, Clowney picked up where he left off in the preseason  last year, when he led the Jets with 222 yards on eight catches.

Those numbers included catches of 71 and 70 yards in a win over the Browns.

Unfortunately, Clowney injured his shoulder in the next preseason game against the Redskins and was limited to one catch in two regular-season contests.

But even that catch—a one-handed grab from future Hall of Famer Brett Favre for 26 yards—gave a glimpse of Clowney's big-play capabilities.

It was easy for Jets fans to dream last night of an autumn Sunday in which Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, and Shonn Greene are churning out yards behind a veteran offensive line.

And Jerricho Cotchery is excelling as a possession receiver when, suddenly, Sanchez uses a play-action fake to freeze the safeties, and throws over the top to Clowney for a game-changing bomb.

For that scenario to become a reality, Clowney needs to be ready on game days.

"Staying healthy, that's all," Clowney told the New York Post. "I made it this far by working hard. It's not like I can't catch."

This could be the year Clowney reintroduces himself to football fans. The former Virginia Tech star appears to be the antithesis of the selfish, "me-first" jock.

In June, he hosted the David Clowney All-Star Football Camp in Palm Beach County, Florida, to help develop high school varsity players in the area where he grew up.

With such good work on and off the field, Clowney has a chance to give the Jets plenty to smile about.