Jadeveon Clowney is not just having the best season of his NFL career, he is doing so without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
After dealing with injuries for his first two seasons, Clowney has emerged as a star and a leader for a Texans defense.
"He's healthy, and him being healthy and the way that he plays the game, he's one of the best in football," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "You can line him up anywhere, you can do anything you want with the guy from a football schematic standpoint because he understands football. He's a very, very instinctive player and that's why he's having the year that he has. And he plays the game – people get mad at me when I use the word violent – but he plays the game in a very explosive, violent way. It's good for our team."
His performance earned him team captain honors for several games. O'Brien also selected Clowney for his leadership council, which consists of veteran players to give him feedback. While leadership comes in many forms, Clowney's performance is enough to inspire. The Pro Bowl defensive end is currently on a five-game sack streak and ranks second in the NFL with 17 tackles for loss.
"I tell him, 'When you play as hard as you do and you're productive, then you have to demand that type of effort out of everybody else during the games,'" Vrabel said. "So, you can't sit there and force a leadership style on a guy. I think that he just has to continue to do what he's been doing."
Clowney currently has a career-high 9.0 sacks on the season in addition to 37 tackles (30 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown.
The Texans will head to Tennessee to face the Titans on Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
This year's Player Inspired Collection includes four men's hats, a women's hat, a youth-sized hat and a beanie, inspired by Jadeveon Clowney. Sold exclusively at the Houston Texans Team Shop at NRG Stadium.