Second-year safety D.J. Swearinger told NFL Media on Monday that Clowney said after suffering the injury that it happened after he landed on a "hole" in the turf at NRG Stadium. The retractable-roof domed facility has a natural grass surface that is grown outside the building on trays, which are brought in and pieced together to form the field.
"He told me on the field when it happened, he was just like, 'Bro, I just jumped, came down and hit one of the holes on the field,' " said Swearinger. "There are a few holes in the grass, so he said he thought he stepped on one of those holes and got hurt. So I told him to try and walk it off, see if he could go. He went in the next play and couldn't go, so I told him to go to the sideline and see what's up with it. And he went over to the sideline, and I guess that's when they told him (he had to stay out)."
"The turf down there is terrible," Belichick said on Boston sports radio station WEEI-FM the day after the injury. "It's terrible. It's just inconsistent. It's all the little trays of grass and some of them are soft and some of them are firm and they don't all fit well together, those seams. ... Some of it feels like a sponge, some of it feels real firm and hard like the Miami surface. One step you're on one, the other step you're on another. I really think it's one of the worst fields I've seen."
O'Brien was on Belichick's staff at the time. But when asked Monday if he had any problems with the turf, the coach's response was simply: "No. Nope."
"It's just, from looking at all the angles on film, he just came down awkwardly," O'Brien said. "Most of those types of injuries are non-contact. When you look back at those injuries, they seem to be non-contact."
Swearinger and Clowney played together at South Carolina, so the safety has known the rookie phenom for longer than any of his teammates.
"No. 1 pick, it was his first game, a lot weighing on his shoulders and he gets hurt," said Swearinger. "That's something that's tough to deal with. He'll get in training room, get in the cold tub, get all the treatment he needs to get himself back together. And we'll be good. ... He's gonna hit the ground running. An injury is the last thing anyone wants or expects, an injury that sits him out for a long period of time. It just tests your heart, to see where you're at mentally and physically."