"I don't know if I have a pitch count yet ready for him for the first game, but I think he's come a long way," O'Brien said Friday, per The Houston Chronicle. "He's been out there practicing. We've done a lot of things with him on the field that involve contact, that involve a lot of the moves that he's going to have to make, whether it's in the running game or dropping into pass coverage, which he'll do some of that, or rushing the passer."
Microfracture surgery has a way of derailing a promising career, which is why all eyes will be on the former No. 1 overall pick this season. Clowney did not play in any warmup games this August, adding to the intrigue.
If Clowney is healthy, and in any way reminiscent of the player he was in college, the Texans' defense has a chance to be extraordinary -- so much so that it could negate some of their deficiencies on offense. If he can't reach that point in his athletic career again, it will be one of the great disappointments in sports.
Clowney, we often forget, is a once-in-a-generation talent. Though his combination of size and speed is taken for granted, his emergence onto the scene in college was a turning point in the way NFL personnel heads looked at defensive players.
If nothing else, the fan in all of us should hope O'Brien, however he decides to handle Clowney's workload, is doing so the right way.