Jadeveon Clowney had the breakout performance worthy of a No. 1 pick last year: 50 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 16 tackles for loss, two passes defensed, one forced fumble.
Despite making eye-popping plays and earning Pro Bowl honors, Clowney still plays with a chip on his shoulder. He heard the criticism, the doubts, even talk of being "a bust" while he worked his way back from a grueling 2014 microfracture surgery.
"That's just been in the back of my head, what people said," Clowney said. "So, every day I come out here, I'm going to get better. I don't care what's going on or how the weather is or how the day's been, how my body feels, I just come here to work. When I'm on the field, just get the work in and then go about my business, play on and take care of myself."
Clowney aimed to prove critics wrong but, even more importantly, he needed to return to the field for his family and the teammates that believed he could do it. And he did.
Now in his fourth season, Clowney arrives at training camp every day with the singular focus of getting better. Off the field, he is fun-loving, gregarious and always laughing with his teammates. On the field, he still uses those critics to fuel him for an even better season this year.
"I honestly got a lot more to do," Clowney said. "I think I'm just starting off. That was just really my rookie year to me, last year. I was just really getting rolling in this league and I think I can be even better than I was last year."