Jadeveon Clowney injury: 'If I can play, I'll play'

Streeter Lecka

The Gamecocks' standout defensive lineman discussed his injury woes with the media Tuesday.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who missed the Gamecocks' narrow win over Kentucky Saturday, spoke to media members after practice Tuesday. Clowney addressed the injury issues that have been plaguing him and said he isn't sure when he'll be back in action.

Listen to Clowney's comments in their entirety via the player below:

Clowney is dealing with a strained rib muscle, which would affect any sort of athlete, and certainly affects the ability of a defensive lineman to do his job. The one-time Heisman contender said he could have played through the injury against the Wildcats, but elected not to. The absence didn't sit well with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, who said after the game that if Clowney "wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants. But if he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. Simple as that."

Spurrier later backed off those comments a bit, acknowledging the injury impacting his star defensive lineman.

Via ESPN:

"It was just we didn't know he wasn't playing until right before the game," Spurrier said. "That is always a little frustrating. Usually the trainer or doctor comes and tells you this guy is out, and that did not happen last night. But on the other side if a player is in pain and can't play, I don't want him to play. None of us do."

The 6'6, 274-pound junior missed practice Tuesday, and he's questionable for the Gamecocks' matchup at Arkansas this Saturday.

More on South CarolinaGarnet and Black Attack

Clowney had an impressive sophomore campaign in 2012, compiling 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two pass breakups. Those eye-popping stats, along with his helmet-popping hit in last season's Outback Bowl, made Clowney an early favorite to become the first full-time defensive Heisman winner.

However, he's seemingly been dealing with injury or illness in each game this year, and his numbers have taken a significant drop. In four games played, Clowney has just four quarterback hurries, three tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. A surefire first-round pick whenever he decides to enter the NFL Draft, many have speculated that he's been taking it easy this year to avoid a major injury and keep his draft stock safe.

Clowney says that isn't the case.

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