The pads come on Friday at Texans training camp, and that makes Bill O'Brien happy: the offense might be able to slow down Jadeveon Clowney.
"Clowney's doing good," the head coach said of the defensive end. "I can't wait until we're out of shells. We can't block them in shells. Maybe we can have a little bit better chance of blocking him in pads."
A breakout season by Clowney in 2016 has carried over into the first couple days of camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. He finished with 16 tackles for loss and six sacks in 14 games last year. This offseason, one of his main goals was to stay healthier than he had in his first three seasons in the NFL.
"I had little banged-up injuries last year," Clowney said. Just really get healthy and work on my hands a lot better than I did this past season. I think I did that and I'm feeling better this year."
His improved health, along with another year of NFL seasoning should give opposing offenses a lot to worry about. But add in the return of J.J. Watt, as well as another pass-rushing threat in Whitney Mercilus, and the 2017 Texans defense can be downright frightening.
"You got some phenomenal pass rushing ability out there," Watt said. "I mean you've got Jadeveon, you've got Whitney; it's going to be great. Just to see the talent that we have and the ability to put it on the field at the same time and to come from different angles, it's going to be really special."
Clowney agreed, citing how he and Watt both appear to be healthy at the same time.
"Hopefully we can get that done this year," Clowney said. "Come out here and give the people what they want, come out and play hard and we make a lot of plays up front. That's how it goes. We come in here to work every day to get to that goal, so just trying to do that."
Clowney, Watt and the Texans will practice in full pads on Friday.
Check out photos from the second day of #TexansCamp practice at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.