His teammates, coaches and even opposing coaches all agree: Jadeveon Clowney is "coming along".
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said so on Thursday about his second-year outside linebacker. He's put up three sacks and four tackles for loss in the past two games, and was frequently in the opposing backfield. With 15 games played in his young career, Clowney is steadily improving and showing why the Texans chose him with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
"He is understanding the system better," Crennel said. "He is playing technique better."
That's all a benefit of finally getting healthy, according to Crennel, as well as head coach Bill O'Brien.
"When you play the game, you have to practice your trade, so to be able to get out on the field and
practice, you learn a little bit about yourself, you learn a little bit about your opponent, about the system," Crennel said. "So I think all of that has helped him make the kind of progress we are seeing."
It's been a winding NFL road thusfar for Clowney. On Friday he was named the team's 2015 Ed Block Courage Award Winner. The award is voted on by teammates, and recognizes the extra efforts both on and off the field and the ability to overcome great adversity. Clowney's producing in 2015, after a star-crossed rookie campaign.
Shortly after he was drafted in early May of 2014, Clowney had surgery for a sports hernia. In August during a training camp practice at Denver, he suffered a concussion. When he suited up in his first professional game, he tore his meniscus and missed the next six weeks. He saw action in three more games, but was shut down in late November for an early December micro-fracture surgery.
An offseason spent rehabbing from that saw him back on the field in Week 1 of 2015, and he's begun to make plays. With 4.5 sacks on the season, Clowney ranks third on the team in that category. But above all else, Clowney said he's keeping his focus very simple.
"I'm just trying to play," Clowney said. "Ups and downs in football, you go through everything. Injuries, you have good games, you have bad games. You have to keep it one game at a time and it's always about the next game."
The Colts in Indianapolis are that next game, and they're aware of the former South Carolina Gamecock's impact.
"He looks 100 percent healthy," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "Again, last week, the problems that he gave New England, two sacks and playing against the run really well and the pass. He's almost un-blockable."
While he said the compliment from Pagano "means a lot", Clowney emphasized that his mind is on what will happen between the lines.
"I'm looking forward to the matchup this week," Clowney said. "It's a big game for both of us. I'm just trying to prepare well and get ready to play."
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who's locker is next to Clowney's has seen quite a bit of development.
"He is becoming a pro, he is starting to see and understand what it takes to become a professional at this level," Wilfork said. "He has so much to offer to us and he can help us in so many different ways and I think that last week he kind of felt like the old JD of the old college days and stuff and I think that is what everybody wants."
If Clowney, who missed Wednesday and Thursday's work with a hamstring injury, can remain healthy enough to practice and play on a weekly basis, O'Brien said the sky is the limit.
"He's a confident player," O'Brien said. "I think the big thing with Jadeveon, I think I've said this from day one, is health. When he feels good and he's healthy, he's a good football player. I think he has a lot of confidence in his own ability."
Clowney and the Texans kick off at noon CT on Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/8/2021)