Expectations high for Clowney and defense

Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans defense have high expectations.

They did before the season started, and they remain high despite losing key contributors in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

"I think we hold ourselves to a higher standard than what people think," Clowney said. "No matter who's at quarterback, who's on the offensive side, I think we hold ourselves to a higher standard. The guys we have around the ball on defense, we come to work every day and work hard, extremely hard, just so we don't give up any runs. We put pressure on ourselves, so that's what it's going to be for the rest of the season."

The first overall in pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney's lined up in a variety of spots on the defensive front. That versatility, according to O'Brien, is a highly valuable asset for the Texans defense.

"We started him out as a SAM linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and then he was a rush defensive end in a four-down scheme," O'Brien said. "He could do both things. He could drop into pass coverage. He could rush the passer. He could rush up inside. Last year we played him at inside tackle. We played him inside. So, he's done a lot of different things for us and that's, for us – you guys have heard that for a few years now, is we really value the versatility of the player."

For defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Clowney's combined a unique skillset along with hard work and brains.

"He's got great instincts," Vrabel said. "I think he understands. He's coachable. He's a smart player. I think he recognizes formations and kind of what teams are trying to do to him sometimes. We'll continue to try to coach him every day and develop him like you do a lot of guys. But, he does have good instincts. He's able to kind of recognize what's going on and what the offense is trying to do."

Clowney and the Texans face Seattle this Sunday at 3:05 p.m. CT, and the defense will be challenged by quarterback Russell Wilson.

"We have to press the pocket, man," Clowney said. "Try to keep him inside. He can make throws all over the field look so good. He's got a lot of guys around him to make good throws. They make good plays for him down the field. Really up front, we have to just keep him in the pocket and stop the run."

Wilson's completed 63.6 percent of his passes this season for 1,556 yards, with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He's also averaging 27.3 rushing yards per game.

The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 9/7/2020)

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