Jadeveon Clowney: Making progress, finally ready to break out?
The news surrounding the Houston Texans first overall selection from 2014, linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, continues to be nothing but positive. The most recent report suggests that team doctors are calling the progress made by the pass rusher, “spectacular.”
"Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney “looks spectacular” seven months removed from microfracture surgery, according to Texans team physician Dr. Walt Lowe."
ESPN’s Tania Ganguli quoted the team doctor but also went a little further into detail to explain what the young player has already gone through with his knee after injuring himself in the 2014 season opener.
"He had arthroscopic knee surgery the next day and attempted to return to the field in the following month.Continued swelling in his knee and pain eventually made clear the arthroscopic surgery was not sufficient. Due to articular cartilage damage, Clowney underwent microfracture surgery on Dec. 8.The second surgery ended his season.The surgery involves creating tiny fractures in the bones surrounding the knee to increase blood flow to the area and aid the recovery of the cartilage. It also requires a demanding and disciplined rehab schedule."
So far in his young career Clowney has only seen the field in four games and recorded seven tackles. This is a far cry from what the team expected when they selected the 6’6″ 266 pounder out of South Carolina.
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Clowney was supposed to pair with defensive end and two-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt to form the most feared pass rushing duo in the league.
Instead the rookie spent his whole season trying to get healthy and that process has continued well into the offseason. The positive reports are encouraging for the prospects of this defense, especially when considering the Houston Texans did almost nothing in the offseason to improve their pass rush.
However, just because Clowney is making positive strides does not mean he is ready to be the player Houston thought they were getting.
The Dallas Cowboys had franchise tagged their defensive end Anthony Spencer in 2013, only to see him lost for the year with a knee injury. Spencer had the same microfracture surgery that Jadeveon Clowney went through and the rehab was a long process.
After returning to the field, Spencer looked like a shell of his former self. A career year in 2012 saw him credited with 95 tackles and 11 sacks (he only managed one game and two tackles before the injury in 2013). Once returning in 2014 from the injury, Spencer managed only 22 tackles and a half a sack in 13 games.
The good news for Spencer (and encouraging news for Clowney’s future) was that as the season progressed he began to regain his form, evidenced by his four tackles, a sack and one forced fumble in the Cowboys’ two playoff games last season.
So while Clowney has looked great so far, it may still be too early to expect him to come out and look like the kid no one could block at South Carolina. Still, just getting him healthy and on the field will be a huge step in the right direction.