About 30 friends and family members of Jadeveon Clowney were on hand at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday afternoon to cheer on the former Gamecock as the Texans faced off against the Panthers less than 30 miles from Clowney’s hometown of Rock Hill.
The second-year linebacker made two tackles and was credited with two passes defensed in Houston’s 24-17 loss, but despite the Texans falling to 0-2, Clowney said it was enjoyable to play close to home for the first time as an NFL player.
“It was nice being home,” he said. “I always watched (the Panthers) on TV, and I always wanted to play here. Being here, playing against those guys, it was great.”
Clowney, who was injured for most of last season, did not play at all in the preseason before playing 30 snaps last week against Kansas City. He made four tackles, including one for a loss, against the Chiefs. He believes he made progress from Week 1 to Week 2.
“I feel fully confident about where I’m at right now, I’ve just got to keep getting better and better each week, and I think it’s going to come along,” he said. “I’m gonna go back to work Monday. I feel a little bit better than I did. I’m feeling OK right now, we’ve just got to string some wins together hopefully.”
Another former Gamecock and fellow Rock Hill native, Johnathan Joseph, said he was impressed by Clowney this offseason as he worked to return from a knee injury. Joseph said it would have been easy for Clowney to be bothered by outside noise, but instead he fought hard through a grueling rehab process to get back for Houston’s opener.
“I’ve seen a guy that worked really hard to come back from a tough injury when a lot of people doubted him,” Joseph said. “I’ve seen a guy that played the first game of the season, came back and practiced all throughout training camp. So I definitely have seen a guy that worked really hard and pushed himself back to get where he needed to be and is playing some great ball, just taking it one day at a time.”
After Clowney was drafted by the Texans, Joseph said he made it a priority to help the No. 1 overall pick deal with trying to live up to expectations. The 10-year veteran was also a first round pick out of USC and said he wanted to make sure Clowney understood what it would take to be a successful NFL player.
“I just try to be a big brother, a helping hand, just try to help out any way I possibly can, because I know the things that come along with being an NFL player,” Joseph said. “He’s one of those rare superstar talent guys, the No. 1 overall pick. There’s a lot of pressure being put on him as a No. 1 pick, so I had to talk to him and just try to keep him levelheaded, don’t get too down on yourself and things like that.”