O'Brien's estimate might turn out to be overly conservative.
Clowney has progressed so well from microfracture surgery on his knee, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, that the new goal is to have him back on the field when training camp opens.
The coaching and medical staffs will likely ease Clowney back into practice throughout August. Still, this is excellent news for the prospects of one of the most hyped players to enter the NFL in the past decade.
Clowney isn't the only reason for optimism on Romeo Crennel's defense.
According to McClain, the former Defensive Rookie of the Year is "running well and showing the range he had before suffering two season-ending knee injuries."
Over the final five games of last season, the Texans were fourth in points allowed (16.2), second in yards (260.8), fourth against the run (84.2 yards), third against the pass (176.6) and first on third down (22.6 percent).
With Cushing healthy and Clowney soon to join him, that improvement in the first year of Crennel's system should carry over to the 2015 season.