Last year’s top pick Clowney still looking for 1st sack
HOUSTON (AP) Jadeveon Clowney is finally healthy and playing well for the Texans. But something is missing.
Seven games into his NFL career, the linebacker who was last year’s top overall draft pick doesn’t have a sack.
He isn’t worried though.
”They’re coming,” he said with a smile.
Clowney made a name for himself as a fearsome pass rusher in a three-year career at South Carolina, where he piled up 24 sacks. He wasn’t able to get to the quarterback in four games in an injury-plagued rookie season. He had microfracture surgery on his right knee in December and was limited in the first two games this season after returning to practice on Aug. 17.
In Houston’s win over Tampa Bay last week Clowney played most of the defensive snaps and got his first quarterback hit. He was close to taking down Jameis Winston several times. On one of those plays, he was inches away from sacking him when Winston launched a pass that was intercepted by the Texans.
Clowney said getting so close without getting a sack is tough.
”You watch the game and you see guys hitting him and then I’m like: `I’ve got to get to him,”’ he said. ”Then you (are) so close and don’t get there, so it’s kind of frustrating. But you’ve got to keep going.”
Though Clowney is a little down about having a zero in the sacks column, he isn’t letting it bother him too much. After all, a year ago he wasn’t even playing following his first knee surgery; he was injured in his NFL debut. His tough rookie year helped him gain perspective on how lucky he is to be playing in the NFL.
”Don’t ever take it for granted. Because you could be one play away from not playing again,” he said. ”I think I got close to that. I was just like when I do return, don’t take it for granted. Just go out there and do what I can do every play.”
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been impressed with Clowney’s performance this season and is confident his first NFL sack is right around the corner.
”I know he’s working very hard at it,” Crennel said. ”He would like to get a sack, and if he keeps working, he will get one.”
Clowney was a defensive end in college, but was converted to outside linebacker in Crennel’s 3-4 scheme. But as Clowney has gotten healthy and more comfortable in the defense, the Texans have used him in a variety of ways.
”We try to move him around a lot,” coach Bill O’Brien said. ”He’s an instinctive guy. We don’t think that he’s just an outside linebacker or just a defensive end. We try to look at what the opponent’s offense is going to do and see if we can get him into situations where after his film study he knows what to do.”
O’Brien said Clowney has been helped by learning from linebacker Brian Cushing, star end J.J. Watt – the two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and even veteran DT Vince Wilfork, who is in his first year with the Texans. Clowney doesn’t mind moving up and down the line.
”I told them line me up anywhere, I’m just going to play and do what I got to do,” he said.
As the Falcons prepare to meet the Texans on Sunday, Atlanta receiver Julio Jones was asked about the challenge of dealing with Clowney and Watt.
”Definitely a game wrecker,” Jones said of Clowney. ”Those guys, you just got to double those guys. We got to get chips and things on those guys to try and slow them down. You can’t contain those guys. You can just slow them down.”
Clowney beamed when told what Jones said about him.
”That’s great hearing that from a guy I watched,” Clowney said. ”He’s a beast out there, so hearing that from him got me feeling pretty good.”
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