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Old 08-17-2015, 05:30 PM   #1
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Clowney excited to return to practice

The first practice after the first preseason game might carry a little bit of extra juice. Even more so for the Houston Texans, who took the field for practice on Monday with No. 90 in uniform for the first time in training camp.

The No. 90 for the Texans might not be fresh on your mind, but that's the number worn by second-year outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. His 2014 rookie season was cut short by microfracture surgery on Dec. 8, after he’d been placed on injured reserve following the team’s 12th game of the season.

He had only played in four games to that point due to injury, and Clowney conceded today following his first on-field work with the team - that he does, in fact, still feel a bit like a rookie.

“You know, I was talking about that. I don’t know,” Clowney said. “I say, ‘Yeah, I do feel like kind of a rookie because I didn’t get to play more than what, four games?’ So yeah, it’s kind of like a rookie season all over again for me.”

Clowney could help energize a pass rush that netted just 38 sacks, good for 19th in the league. But 20.5 of those sacks for the Texans came from defensive player of the year- J.J. Watt. They need pressure to come from others, too.

 “You know, it’s good to have everybody out here. Anytime you get guys back from injury, it’s always good to have as close to a full 90-man roster as you can.  It’s good to have everybody out here," said Texans coach Bill O'Brien.

The work Clowney participated in was limited, which was by design as he gets acclimated to full-speed work and more team drills. But he’s ready to go.

“Man, I’m very anxious. It’s going to be great to be out there, rushing the passer and just putting my hands on other guys,” he said. “I’ve been hitting these dummies for so long and nobody hits back. So we’re going to see how it goes.”

He was asked about how much work he put in to get back to this point. “More than I’ve worked in my whole life probably, but it was worth it," Clowney said.

"Just to be back out here. It was all worth it, man.”

Teammate Brian Cushing, who has been through a pair of knee surgeries and the rehab process that goes along with it, can appreciate what Clowney has gone through to get back on the field.

“I know what it is like; I have done it twice. It’s not easy,” Cushing said. “There are a lot of dark days and repetitive hard work that has to go in. The hardest part is over for him. Now it is the fun part, getting back and playing football with the guys.”

Talking to other players on his team, as well as other players around the league who have been through similar surgeries and rehabilitation is something Clowney did a lot of over the past several months.

“Jon Beason (linebacker) from the Panthers, when he was at the Panthers and Giants. I talked to him a few times,” Clowney said. “He told me to put together a routine. He told me the stuff he was using and I started finally doing what he did, and it helped me out a lot and leading up to practicing. I’m back.”

O’Brien was pleased to have him back on the field - and on the target date they had aimed for

“We brought him back, walk-throughs, stretch, individual. I thought that’s basically what we wanted to see,” O’Brien said. “I think anytime you have surgery, the rehab process can be monotonous.

“He put in the work. We’re going to ease him back into this thing and ramp him up to be able to play in games and go from there. So yeah, he put in a lot of work.

“I spent time with him. He and I talk. Obviously, when we went with the surgery with him, we felt like that was the best thing for him.

“At that time, we probably spoke the most about how important rehab was going to be. I think he took that to heart. He worked hard and now he’s back out here, which is good.”

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