5 Reasons Why No One Is Forgetting About PUMA’s Jadeveon Clowney

  • Jadeveon Clowney

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    1. Clowney will be healthy

    Late last month, Texans team physician Dr. Walt Lowe told Forbes that Clowney looked “spectacular” in his rehab.

    The short version of a long story is that due in part to some fascinating and complicated exercise science, and due in part to Clowney being a physical freak of nature, he is on track to recover from microfracture surgery faster than most athletes.

    But given all they’ve invested in Clowney, the Texans surely won’t allow him back onto the field until he’s good and ready and the risk of re-injury is minimal.

    Whether he’s suited up for Houston’s regular season opener against Kansas City on Sept. 13, or sometime shortly after, Clowney will be in peak condition to do what he was drafted to do.

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    2. Clowney is still fast

    Knee injuries–especially those that require microfracture surgery–can certainly take away some of an athlete’s speed. But that doesn’t mean it makes them slow.

    Clowney entered the NFL amid comparisons to all-time great speed rushers like Lawrence Taylor and Julius Peppers. At the pre-draft combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, the fastest among defensive linemen and the third-fastest among all linemen and linebackers. (Clowney played defensive end in college, but plays outside linebacker in Houston’s 3-4 scheme.)

    Even if he’s a little bit slower than he used to be, Clowney is still one of the fastest pass rushers around.

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  • Jadeveon Clowney Houston Texas rookie

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    3. Clowney can't be double-teamed

    I mean, you could send two blockers at Clowney, who stands 6-5 and weighs over 260 pounds. But assuming you’re like every other NFL team and will also send two (maybe three) blockers at Watt, and then considering that Wilfork is pretty much the size of two offensive linemen by himself…there just aren’t enough linemen, fullbacks, and tight ends in the huddle to devote that much attention to three defenders when there are eight others on the field.

    Each offense will approach Houston’s defense its own way, but the most likely scenarios involve Watt and Wilfork occupying a handful of blockers between them while Clowney sees a lot of single coverage.

    Go ask the offensive coordinators in the SEC how that worked out for them.

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    4. There's no "book" on Clowney

    When a rookie phenom takes a league by storm, there’s a universal understanding that he or she is getting somewhat of a pass in his or her first spin around the league. Since each opponent is seeing the rookie for the first time or few during Year 1, they don’t yet know the best way to deal; they have yet to develop a well-researched scouting report, or “book,” on the rookie.

    In Year 2, however, the league catches up. Each opponent has had time to watch film, consult and compare notes, and put together a book. Maybe that’s where the term “sophomore slump” comes from, because the second year should be more challenging than the first.

    In the case of Clowney, his rookie year wasn’t much of a rookie year. He played in only parts of four games and wasn’t healthy most of that time. How many teams could have possibly developed a good book on him? It’s almost like Clowney will be a rookie again in 2015, which is a problem for opponents who still don’t quite know all that he’s bringing to the table.

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    5. Clowney will attend the school of "Hard Knocks"

    The Texans have been chosen for the 2015 season of HBO’s award-winning Hard Knocks series, which begins August 11. On a team devoid of many big-name stars, there is plenty of room for Texans not named Watt to become nationwide fan favorites as the HBO cameras get an all-access look into training camp and probe into the private lives of players.

    Clowney could easily land in one of those roles. He’s a potential Hall of Fame talent with an intriguing offseason storyline who has exuded star power since he first stepped onto the gridiron.

    Last season was supposed to be Clowney’s introduction to the world as a real-life NFL star, but injuries got in the way. And so maybe you got the impression that the hype was unjustified. Or maybe you simply forgot about him. But right now, this is looking like Clowney’s time to shine.

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  • Jadeveon Clowney Houston Texas rookie
  • Jadeveon Clowney
  • Jadeveon Clowney

One year ago, the PUMA-clad Jadeveon Clowney–the star of many highlight montages and tall tales at the University of South Carolina–was the newly-signed No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and about to kick off the most publicly anticipated rookie season for a defensive player since the Texans took Mario Williams with the No. 1 pick in 2006. He signed with PUMA as the perfect champion for their “forever faster” mantra, a new-age defensive beast who was so athletic and so blindingly fast off the ball that he was capable of making hits that even got LeBron out of his seat and tweeting. Clowney’s destruction of Michigan running back Vincent Smith came with such force and speed that many wondered whether it was the greatest hit ever. (When Clowney first signed with PUMA, he promised new “hits” like that one, too.)

But then Clowney suffered a concussion during the preseason. In his regular season debut, he went down with a right knee injury that caused him to miss six games. Clowney came back and tried to play through the pain, but he was in and out of the lineup the rest of the way. Houston failed to make the postseason as his rookie season consisted of four games, seven tackles, and zero sacks. In December, he had microfracture surgery; his second procedure on that right knee in that calendar year.

The Texans’ 9-7 finish last year wasn’t enough to play into the NFL’s second season. However, that could change in 2015. Not because of the strength of Houston’s schedule, but because the defense just got a lot scarier thanks to the free agent acquisition of five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork and, most importantly, the return of outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.

After months of watching, waiting, and working out, today Clowney is poised to make an impact in Year 2 of his pro career. The man who was expected to help turn the Texans around will be operating under the growing shadow created by J.J. Watt’s success, plus there’s a new class of NFL rookies vying for the spotlight given to exciting newcomers. Still, despite all of that, very few players in the game have Clowney’s combination of speed and power. PUMA knows it. His teammates know it. Offensive coordinators know it. You know you’re in an athletic class all by yourself when a brand decides that in one of your first commercial campaigns, you’ll be delivering all online product…on-foot…and by breaking people’s doors down. That fits Clowney’s game perfectly.

Here are 5 Reasons Why No One Is Forgetting About PUMA’s Jadeveon Clowney.

Follow Amaar on Twitter at @AmaarAbdulNasir

image via @PUMA