After the Houston Texans selected him with the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney entered his rookie year with high expectations. But the outside linebacker played in just four games in a disappointing NFL season, one that was plagued with injuries and ultimately ended when he underwent microfracture knee surgery in early December.
Speaking for the first time since the surgery, Clowney didn't comment on when he could return, but said he is encouraged with his recovery so far.
"I'm progressing well," Clowney told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm moving forward in my rehab. Things are starting to come together just like I hoped they would."
The Texans think Clowney can make an appearance in training camp in late July and hope to have him ready to play for Week 1 of the NFL season. Clowney underwent the surgery on Dec. 8 due to significant cartilage damage and a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Clowney's rehab -- usually nine-to-10 months for this surgery -- was complicated because he could not put weight on the leg for "six-to-seven weeks" afterward. He said he's now working out four-to-five hours a day in Houston as he tries to return to full strength.
"Rehab is tough, tougher than playing," he said. "You have to get there (NRG Stadium) earlier than everybody and leave later than everybody.
"Man, I thought that was going to be real tough, but I had my family around a lot. When they finally told me I could walk, I just took off."
In four games, Clowney totaled just seven tackles and zero sacks. A healthy Clowney, paired with Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and veteran Vince Wilfork, would give Houston the monster defensive line it envisioned when drafting him last year.