With contract talks reportedly heading nowhere at the moment, it's likely the Texans won't see their former first-round pick for a while, perhaps not until the eve of the regular season. In the interim, coach Bill O'Brien has faith that Clowney is getting himself prepared for the season.
"I have every belief and trust that JD is working on his own and getting ready for whenever he does decide to show up," O'Brien said Tuesday, via the Houston Chronicle. "JD has played good football for us. He knows what it takes to be ready for training camp and stuff like that. I'm not saying when he's going to be here. He could be here tomorrow, so don't put that in the headline.
"I have no idea when he's going to be here. It's up to him, but I do know we believe in the guys that are here and we're working hard with the guys that are here."
Clowney's early career was plagued by injuries, but the former No. 1 overall pick has mostly put those issues in the rear-view, missing just three games the past three seasons. Questions about his condition whenever he returns to Houston will be pervasive. We've seen other players deal with soft-core issues after sitting out an entire offseason (on the flip side, we've also seen the likes of Aaron Donald dominate the world after working out on his own all summer).
Clowney, 26, is set to make $15.967 million under the franchise tag if sides can't get a long-term deal done by the July 15 deadline. Until he signs his tender, the pass rusher cannot be fined for forgoing mandatory work later this summer (minicamp in June and training camp beginning in late July). If Clowney skipped any regular-season games (ala Le'Veon Bell), he'd forfeit just under $940,000 per game check.