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Texans remain optimistic Clowney will reach potential

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Houston Texans remain optimistic Jadeveon Clowney will make a full recovery from microfracture knee surgery.

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The 2014 No. 1 overall pick appeared in just four games before undergoing his second knee surgery in four months. Texans general manager Rick Smith said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team is optimistic Clowney will be ready for the start of the 2015 season.

"It's an arduous process, and we talked with him about that, how he'd have to be diligent throughout that process," Smith said. "He's doing well, and we expect that hopefully make a full recovery and be able to help us next year."

"I do think that he can be a very impactful player and reach his potential."

Smith said the knee injury was an in-season event and was not a lingering issue Houston officials overlooked during the pre-draft process last spring. Doctors were aware after Clowney's arthroscopic knee surgery in September that a microfracture procedure was an "eventual reality," Smith said.

"I think he's on the right track," said Texans coach Bill O'Brien. "Eventually, obviously you have to go out there and play and do it. But we feel good about his ability and his talent."

O'Brien refused to categorize 2014 as a lost year for Clowney, who entered the NFL as one of the most hyped defensive players in a decade.

"I would say he learned a lot about being a pro," O'Brien said. "He learned a lot about how to deal with injuries. He learned about the fact that when you play in this league, especially at that position, you're never going to be 100 percent.

"I'm sure it's a disappointing year for him, and for us, that he couldn't play. But it wasn't his fault, and now he has to rehab and come back strong and ready to go."

The question is whether Clowney is the type of player who can still thrive at this level if his body isn't quite right. It's the $22 million dollar question in Houston.

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