When an NFL team has the first pick in any draft, there comes heightened expectations from everyone that the player selected will infuse that franchise with significant talent. Increasing expectations further is the rare "generational talent" type of player who enters a draft and becomes the consensus first overall pick. Such was the case with Jadeveon Clowney, so Houston did what all 31 other teams would have done in that situation a year ago.
In the months that followed the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney missed significant time due to injuries:
- Sports hernia surgery. It was later discovered that he actually played with this during his last season at South Carolina.
- Torn meniscus in the first regular season game against Washington. He had a procedure to repair it, and then missed the next six games. He returned in Week Eight against the Titans, but then only played in three of the next four games before returning to the doctors with severe knee pain.
- Microfracture surgery. This procedure resulted in the team placing him on injured reserve for the rest of the 2014 season, and raising the obvious concerns about his future of even returning to play in the NFL again.
The history of professional athletes recovering fully after microfracture surgery is not encouraging. However, there is optimism in Clowney's case, since the affected area treated by the procedure was much smaller than in many other athletes who underwent similar procedures. The physicians and trainers also utilized innovative military techniques during rehab to expedite the recovery back to full health.
To that end, fans everywhere want to know how the former first overall pick is doing in his recovery, and if he'll be able to contribute to the 2015 season for Houston.
Coach Bill O'Brien offered this feedback a few weeks ago:
"Hopefully he'll be able to get out on the field sometime during training camp," head coach Bill O'Brien said in a Monday morning NFL Network interview with Tiffany Blackmon. "Maybe at the beginning of training camp if he continues to work at the pace that he's been working."
"Our team needs him, and he knows that. He's working hard to get back out there," O'Brien said.
"He's in there every day," O'Brien said. "He's putting in a lot of time in our training room with our trainers and our doctors."
Jadeveon Clowney also offered some insight to his recovery, which included:
"You got to be in there earlier than everybody and you got to leave later," Clowney said. "That's a lot tougher than playing. When they told me I could walk, I took off."
So what's the latest? I'm glad you asked.
This article from NFL.com provides some good news for those wondering how Clowney is doing:
This 10-year-old inquisitor named Michael happens to be the son of Texans coach Bill O'Brien.
"Every night when I get home, he asks me how Clowney's doing," O'Brien said in a recent season ticket holder Town Hall conference call, via the team's official website. "This is probably the question that I get asked the most."
So, coach, how is the former No. 1 overall pick doing in his rehab from microfracture surgery?
"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."
The team has been consistent in its encouragement regarding the outside linebacker's health in 2015. One of the most hyped athletes to enter the NFL in recent memory, Clowney only played in four games last season.
If he suffers another injury-plagued year, the "biggest bust of all-time" debates will rage.