Less than a week into Houston Texans training camp, rookie Jadeveon Clowney is making a good first impression and proving that he was worthy of the No. 1 draft pick.
Concerns about the former South Carolina all-American defensive end transitioning to outside linebacker have all but disappeared.
“There’s no question in my mind,” NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest told houstontexans.com. “When I was watching the one-on-one drills with the tight ends, Clowney was dominating. He drove one tight end about five, 10 yards back. Another tight end, he almost picked off the ground.”
Clowney’s former South Carolina teammate, safety D.J. Swearinger, told nfl.com that Clowney’s offseason sports hernia surgery hasn’t slowed him. Swearinger said the Clowney he sees in Texans practice is the same Clowney he saw with the Gamecocks.
“It’s like you watch him on film and be like, ‘Whooo! Where’d that come from?’ He’d be someplace and he’d be a blur,” Swearinger said. “That’s something he used to do all the time in South Carolina and now we’re just ready for him to do it here.”
Veteran Texans left tackle Duane Brown, who frequently plays opposite Clowney in practice, said he has been impressed.
Asked about people questioning Clowney’s dedication, Brown told the Houston Chronicle: “I don’t see that at all. He’s come to me on a number of occasions asking for pointers and just talking to him I can tell he wants to be great. He comes in here every day and works, doesn’t complain, and that’s all you can ask for.
“He’s a heck of an athlete (and) very hungry to learn, to be a good player. I really like to see that. He comes in here, he works his tail off. He’s new, he’s fresh and it’s still early, but I think he’s going to be as good as he wants to be.”
Brown said Clowney working with J.J. Watt on the same side “is really going to cause problems for offenses once they get in sync. Just taking on one of them at a time is a battle.”
Clowney’s position coach, Mike Vrabel, who made the switch from defensive end at Ohio State to linebacker in the NFL also has been complimentary of Clowney.
“My coach (Vrabel), I think I have one of the best coaches in the game, in this business,” Clowney told the Texans website. “I’m just listening to him and talking to him. I’m listening to him more than anybody.”
In addition to Clowney and Swearinger, on the Texans defense will be fellow Gamecock and Rock Hill native Johnathan Joseph at cornerback.
“The DBs, especially Joseph, made some really nice plays today, which was really good to see. I think any time that you have some really proven veterans like that on your football team, it helps,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after Wednesday’s practice.
This will be Joseph’s fourth season with the Texans. He was a first-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2006 and played for five seasons with the Bengals.