The first words out of Jadeveon Clowney’s mouth during an interview Friday: “I’m tired.”
Another round of product pushing had again left the No. 1 pick of the 2014 NFL draft using his name and status to promote a brand. But while Clowney initially sounded exhausted, he soon discovered his light-hearted ways, with the former South Carolina star defensive end acknowledging he was ready to move on from the mundane nature of the NFL offseason and begin the next stage of his football life.
“That’s what I’ve been looking forward to, getting out there and getting that NFL and being a part of it,” said Clowney, while appearing in New York to promote the Vita Coco sports drink. “That’s why I really practice and work.”
Clowney, 21, has been limited since undergoing sports hernia surgery in mid-June. The operation addressed a groin injury that Clowney recently said he played with throughout his junior season with the Gamecocks, when he helped guide South Carolina to an 11-2 record but collected three sacks.
The Rock Hill native plans to return to Houston on Saturday and be at NRG Stadium when Texans rookies report for training camp Monday. But one of the team’s main question marks remains unanswered a week before the first team practice, with Clowney acknowledging he is unsure when he’ll return to action.
“I don’t know for sure right now. I’m going to let (the trainers) decide,” said Clowney, who missed the end of offseason workouts after undergoing surgery in Philadelphia.
A month’s worth of practice and four preseason games separate Clowney’s official transition from defensive end to an outside, weakside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s two-gap, 3-4 defense. Clowey said he has used his recent downtime to stay up on the Texans’ playbook. But every missed day during training camp will cut down on his on-field training, during a rebuilding year when a team that went an NFL-worst 2-14 last season will be counting on the ex-Gamecock for instant pro production.
“I’m going to try,” Clowney said. “That’s the goal, to try to get back.”
Clowney said team trainers have given him gradual tests to gauge his rehabilitation. The Texans haven’t put a timetable on the return of their top pick, who spent some time in South Carolina shadowed by health and character questions.
“It’s still day by day,” Clowney said. “Just taking one day at a time.”
While the Texans move closer to a Week 1 home matchup against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Sept. 7, Clowney continues to balance his new professional world with his personal life. After promising his mother, Josenna, he would buy her a dream house, his four-year, $22.3 million contract – including a $14.5 million signing bonus – nearly has the woman who raised him living in a new reality.
“She thinks she found the house she likes,” Clowney said.