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Houston Texans

Jadeveon Clowney reacts to first Pro Bowl bid

The first person he called was his mother.

Jadeveon Clowney had overcome a mountain of scrutiny and doubt, after suffering multiple injuries and playing just four games his rookies season. His first Pro Bowl bid was more than just acknowledgment that he was the best among his peers at his position.

"It's a great feeling, man, to be recognized as one of the best with the guys that are on that list," Clowney said Wednesday. "It's kind of crazy because I look up to a lot of those guys on the list, and to be up there with them, I was very, very excited about it, very happy."

Clowney, who switched from outside linebacker to defensive end this year, is having a career season. But, it hasn't been an easy road for him. After undergoing microfracture surgery, the Texans 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick admits he hit a low point in his young career. The rehabilitation was slow and arduous. For the first few weeks, he had to keep his knee elevated and he was immobilized for months.

"Sitting on my couch for two months and I was just thinking to myself, am I going to be able to play another snap of football again? At that time, that's what I was really thinking," Clowney said. "Am I going to ever get to play again? So that was probably the lowest point."

Fast forward two years later and Clowney is healthy, but now playing defensive end. This offseason, he felt better than he had since he'd been in the league. He decided to quietly set his sights on a bigger personal goal for himself.

The Pro Bowl.

"It hasn't been a goal before, just this season," Clowney said. "After the rough two starts that I had, I was like 'I'm going to come back and I'm going to make this Pro Bowl this year and do whatever I have to do to make it.' I worked hard in the offseason and came in this year, had a great season and stayed healthy."

Growing up, Clowney had big dreams of playing in the Pro Bowl one day. Now, he admits, he hopes he won't get to suit up for the game. The Texans starting defensive end has bigger aspirations for himself and his teammates.

"Yeah, we're trying to win a division," Clowney said. "Hopefully I don't get to play in the Pro Bowl, that's what I'm hoping for. We're trying to do much bigger things than that right now. We've got a lot on our plate. We got the Bengals coming up. It's a big game this week and we're trying to finish the season strong. Try to get 10 wins, that's what we're looking forward to right now."

Clowney was named to the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Tuesday. He has set single-season career highs in tackles (49), sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (15) and quarterback hits (16), while starting 13 games this year.

"I was happy for him," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "I think that's a heck of an accomplishment for him. He played good football for us this year. He needs to continue to play good football here at the end of the regular season because we need him."

Clowney leads the team and ranks tied for fourth in the NFL in tackles for loss and is one of only four players in the league with multiple games with three-or-more tackles for loss. The 2017 Pro Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Jan. 29, 2017.

Check out the best photos of Jadeveon Clowney from the 2016 season.

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