Anyone who watched the HBO show ‘Hard Knocks’ probably saw the scene when outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney was talking to defensive end J.J. Watt about his recovery from an injury. Watt hardly even looked at the linebacker while he spoke and it raised a couple of eyebrows.
“He was OK” – Steve Spurrier
Watt is a team leader and is respected by everyone for his amazing work ethic. Clowney was the first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft who spends more time in the trainers room than on the field.
So did the team leader in J.J. Watt make his feelings on Clowney even more clear when asked about the second year players recovery on Wednesday?
"“It’s good. I think Whitney (Mercilus) played a heck of a game,” Watt told reporters Wednesday. “You look at what Whitney did out there, he had 3.5 sacks. If you give him the one where he got the facemask penalty, it’s 4.5. The guy is playing great football, so you have to give him credit.”"
Notice something missing from that answer? Watt never once mentions Jadeveon and quickly gives praise to the pass rusher who slid over to the right side when the highly touted pass rusher was sidelined.
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Perhaps it was a coincidence, but probably not. Clowney has had his desire questioned ever since his junior year when talk of him sitting out the year to avoid injury was rampant. Clowney then put up weak numbers for South Carolina during the 2013 season and seemed to irritate his old head coach Steve Spurrier.
When speaking on the work ethic of Clowney, the old ball coach said he was “ok,” then praised players like Stephon Gilmore, Melivn Ingram and Marcus Lattimore.
"“He was OK. It wasn’t like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little different,” Spurrier said per ProFootballTalk.com “His work habits are pretty good, they’re not quite like Lattimore, maybe Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he’s got something no one else has.”"
Sound a little like Watt’s response? Perhaps it’s time a leader like J.J. tries a more direct approach to letting Clowney know how he is perceived, maybe that could light a fire under the sophomore player. Because until a fire is lit, he will continue to be one of the most impressive athletes with one of the least impressive stat lines in the NFL.