Is it a bad thing that we are nearly a year into Jadeveon Clowney's tenure as an employee of the Houston Texans and it still doesn't feel like he is actually a real person? Like he's some mythical creature (with one horrific knee)?
With just a few dozen plays under his belt as an NFL player, Clowney feels more like a unicorn than he does an edge pass rusher, so any news of his recovery from microfracture going swimmingly has to be tempered by remembering just how snakebitten Clowney has been since being selected with the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
So with that disclaimer out of the way, we open this week with news of Clowney's speaking for the first time publicly (into microphones, at least) since last November!
Clowney was signing autographs at a Puma Store in the Galleria on Saturday, and as tends to happen at these offseason paid appearances for Texan players, a media gang bang broke out (hat tip to John McClain, Tania Ganguli, and Mark Berman, for their other worldly sound bite gathering skills).
Clowney took the opportunity to update Houston on where things stand right now with his rehabilitation, and let it be known that he feels very confident that he can get back to being the player the Texans envisioned when they used that first pick of the 2014 draft on him:
"I'm very confident about that," Clowney said, speaking for the first time since his Dec. 8 surgery. "This rehab's going to help me a lot to get back towards playing."
Since becoming a Houston Texan, Clowney has more surgeries (3) than games started (2, but he has played in four). After sports hernia surgery during the 2014 preseason, Clowney came into the regular season with a clean bill of health, however, that quickly changed when he landed awkwardly on a pass rush against the Redskins in the season opener and tore his meniscus. He underwent an arthroscopic procedure that got him back on the field by midseason, but pain and swelling persisted in the knee, and it was determined that microfracture surgery was the best solution.
Since the procedure on December 8, Clowney has spent most of his time -- six or seven weeks, to be exact -- off his feet. Since getting the go ahead to put weight on the leg, he has been rehabbing four to five hours a day:
"Oh man, I thought it was going to be real rough but I had my family around me a lot so it kind of went by fast being at home," he said. "The minute they told me I could walk I took off."
"Rehab is (a lot) tougher than playing," Clowney said. "You gotta be in there earlier than everybody, you've gotta leave later than everybody. That's a lot tougher than playing."
For what it's worth, the reports from the Texans' brass on Clowney's dedication to rehab and the early results have been glowing, with head coach Bill O'Brien even implying recently that he could be back sooner than originally anticipated. For his part, Clowney seems positive about all of the post-surgery developments:
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"Very encouraged," Clowney said. "Everything is looking good right now for me. I'm feeling better than I was previously. Just hoping to stay on this track and work towards getting back."
With the presence of J.J. Watt, the signing of nose tackle Vince Wilfork, the encouraging news on Clowney, and the wild card of what the Texans may do with the 16th pick in the draft (linebacker is thought to be a target position), the Texans could be on the verge of having one of the most fearsome front sevens in the league, if things break the right way. Clowney is the tipping point. If he's 85 percent of what they thought they were getting when they picked him, and can remain healthy, the Texans have the potential to be a deluxe version of the 9-7 defense-and-running-game-first 2014 edition.
For now, Jadeveon Clowney's knee remains in a dogfight with Dwight Howard's knee as the most important body part in Houston sports.