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Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien on Clowney's return vs. PIT: "It's 50/50"

Head coach Bill O'Brien still isn't making any promises on Jadeveon Clowney's official return. Houston's No. 1 overall pick is expected back any day following his September 8 knee surgery.

Clowney spoke with media on Friday, saying he would like to play on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. O'Brien re-iterated on his Monday coach's show that the Clowney's return remains a 50/50 possibility following the off-weekend.

"He's progressing," O'Brien said in an exclusive interview on Texans Radio. "He's working really hard to get back and I would say it's 50/50. Yeah, I think we have a long time here to get ready for Pittsburgh, longer than normal so hopefully, that bodes well for him being ready to go but I can't guarantee you that he'll be here for Pittsburgh."

Clowney underwent arthroscopic surgery just one day after he suffered a non-contact knee injury in the Texans season opener against Washington. His return to the starting lineup was expected in 4-6 weeks. Now five weeks removed, Clowney could begin practice as early as this week. If he doesn't, Whitney Mercilus will continue to start following a season-high six tackles, including two for losses, against Indianapolis last week.

"He's playing better," O'Brien said of Mercilus. "He's getting better and better. He works really hard so he's the type of guy you root for to get better because of how much time he puts in. Not everything comes easy to everybody. He's the type of guy that's got to work extremely hard to improve every week and he's doing that. You can see his production on the field even though you may not see it on the stat sheet. He's rushing the passer; he's stopping the run; he's setting the edge on the defense. He's getting better every week."

In Week 7, the (3-3) Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the (3-3) Steelers on Monday, October 20. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN and SportsRadio 610.

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