The Houston Texans pass rusher underwent microfracture knee surgery Monday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source close to the player.
The hope is that he'll be ready to start the 2015 season and that he should make a full recovery. Still, the possibility of missing the beginning of next season is a jarring reality after he was limited to four games and seven tackles after being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in May.
ESPN first reported the news.
Rapoport reports that Clowney suffered cartilage damage in addition to his recent torn meniscus. The team knew that microfracture surgery was a possibility, and it turned out a simple "cleanup" surgery would not suffice. Clowney also played through a knee injury in his final year of college, and this surgery helps explain his struggles to fight through the injury.
"I do want to say that this guy has worked extremely hard to recover from injuries," coach Bill O'Brien said two weeks ago. "And I want to be real clear with this (about) him, as it relates to us here, to the Houston Texans: We think very highly of him. We know that he's going to be a really good player. And he's been unlucky.
"I don't really care about what anybody thinks about what I say in that realm of being unlucky or lucky. I'm just telling you he's had a sports hernia, he's had a concussion and now he's dealing with a knee injury and those things are not easy in your rookie year. And he's in there every day working extremely hard to get better."
Clowney has been unlucky, and so have the Texans. This much we know: If he underwent microfracture surgery before the NFL draft, there's no way he would have been taken with the No. 1 overall pick.