Clowney expected to be "major contributor" in 2015

Jadeveon Clowney has been diligently working his way back to the football field this offseason following microfracture knee surgery in December.

The prognosis looks good, according to Texans general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith.

"Everything that I've seen this offseason, I've been encouraged and impressed with," Smith said Tuesday. "He's doing well. All the reports that I've gotten are very positive and yes, we expect that he'll be a major contributor to our football team this year."

The 2014 No. 1 overall draft selection, who has been busy recovering and rehabbing in Houston, was not able to put any weight on his knee for six weeks after surgery.

Now there's a chance that the former South Carolina Gamecock could return to action as early as August, one month sooner than originally predicted.

Clowney started in last year's season opener against Washington but left before halftime after suffering a knee injury. He underwent meniscus surgery and didn't return until Week 8 at Tennessee. He'd appear in just two more games (Cleveland and Cincinnati) before ending his rookie season on injured reserve. Clowney finished with seven tackles, including three for a loss, through four games.

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