In a press conference today, Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien reiterated what he has been saying for weeks now: Jadeveon Clowney will in fact play in the team's regular season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday:
O'Brien: Clowney will play vs. Chiefs, doesn't know how many plays specifically, though.— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) September 7, 2015
O'Brien hasn't wavered much from this stance; however, until you actually get to "game week," it's difficult to know what's real and what isn't. It's also worth taking into account the thought of Jadeveon Clowney playing in Week One back when it was announced in December 2014 he would have microfracture surgery was ludicrous.
The caveat, of course, is that O'Brien hasn't given any indication as to how many snaps Clowney may play, nor how many O'Brien has in mind for a limit or best-case scenario. Obviously, we expect to see him in pass-rushing situations.
One element of a player returning from an injury often overlooked is the fact that it's not so much about the quality of play (in the early part of the return) as it is about how the player's body/injured body part reacts to the play in the week following. For example, it took a few weeks for the details to come out last year when Brian Cushing had his knee drained a few times after returning to the field; of course, we know how the rest of that season went for him. This is a different player and a different injury , but the distinction between the play quality and the "recovery quality", if you will, is an important one.
I expect Clowney to be tentative and probably not entirely impactful, at least in his first few snaps. If he does well and O'Brien sees fit to send him out for several snaps in the second half, I will be watching very closely for his explosion off the ball and closing speed.
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