Former #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is finally healthy and looking like the player he was drafted to be, according to coach Bill O’Brien:
“Clowney’s been out here every day practicing hard,” O’Brien said. “He’s a guy that’s gotten better. He understands our system, he understands the scheme and he understands his role in it. I think he’s added a couple of pass-rush moves. He’s getting better every day.”
This is undoubtedly refreshing news in a season that is incredibly crucial for Clowney. The NFL means not for long, and players don’t get prolonged windows in which to prove themselves in this league. If not now, when will Clowney become the player he was meant to be?
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To accomplish his goal of “dominating the league”, he has changed his routine this offseason: “I just stretched a lot more, went to yoga, chiropractor,” Clowney said. “I did everything that I wasn’t doing before. It’s starting to help me a lot, so everything is coming together at the right time.”
It’s a sign of progress for a player who has struggled with injuries for all of his two seasons in the NFL. He had one surgery before he ever set foot on an NFL field in a regular season game, and his rookie season was completely derailed by injuries. In his second year he suffered ankle, back and another foot injury which kept him on the sidelines quite a bit.
But this offseason, he hasn’t missed any practices and taken on heavy workloads in all of them. Hopefully he is finally healthy and can stay on the field for all 16 games. In fact, his health has even prompted O’Brien to consider using him on special teams.
That’s where O’Brien needs to reel it back in. Clowney was drafted to be a franchise pass rusher, and he needs to focus on that first. Establish him as a pass rusher, then go from there–don’t put the cart before the horse.
Here’s a bold prediction: Clowney gets over 10 sacks this season.