Houston Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney was instrumental in the team’s 16-9 preseason win over the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night.
The often maligned former South Carolina star has struggled with consistency and injuries during his first two NFL seasons but gave the Texans a possible glimpse of things to come against the Saints.
“It felt real good to be back out there with the team,” Clowney said. “After missing last week, I just wanted to go out there and have fun and win the game.”
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, had just two tackles and one sack – against Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the second quarter – but consistently provided pressure in the backfield. His disruptiveness was one of the reasons why the Saints only managed three field goals for the game.
During the play he recorded his sack, Clowney bull-rushed offensive tackle Andrus Peat, a 2015 first-round pick, to get to Brees.
— NFL (@NFL) August 21, 2016
“I’m trying to just do what I can for the team,” Clowney said. “Get off the ball. Rush. Try to get to the quarterback.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien also took notice of Clowney’s play Saturday, praising him after the game.
"JD did a nice job today from what I could see on the sideline," O’Brien said.
With three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt recovering from herniated disc surgery that could extend into the early portion of the regular season, Houston will need Clowney’s help in getting to the quarterback. Given that he is playing at 265 pounds, almost 20 pounds lighter than last season, his speed could be a major factor in his approach to this season.
Earlier this month, Clowney himself expressed the importance of staying healthy this season after missing 12 games as a rookie in 2014 and four more last season.
Clowney had 24 sacks, 47 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles during his three-year South Carolina career from 2011-13. He was the nation’s unanimous top-ranked prospect coming out of South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina in the 2011 recruiting class.
(You can follow David Levin on Twitter @davidlevin71)
© 2016, David Levin. All rights reserved.
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