If anyone understands what it takes for Jadeveon Clowney to successfully make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, it's Mike Vrabel.
The Texans linebackers coach switched positions himself and earned three Super Bowl rings during his prolific NFL career. According to Vrabel, the biggest adjustment from defensive lineman to linebacker is mental.
"I think you just have to recognize formations sooner," Vrabel said Monday. "Normally, when you're a defensive lineman, you just line up on the offensive tackle or tight end and you just roll and you attack. We have to understand that he does a great job of attacking but he can do a lot of good things for us in coverage. He's done a good job of seeing the formations, adjusting to them, making the calls and being conscientious."
Vrabel's perspective as a former player is invaluable to guys like Clowney and Brooks Reed, who are learning new positions. Clowney admits he relies heavily on Vrabel, who also coached defensive lineman for two seasons at Ohio State, to help him make the switch to outside linebacker.
"My coach (Vrabel), I think I have one of the best coaches in the game, in this business," Clowney said. "I'm just listening to him and talking to him. I'm listening to him more than anybody."
Reed, now entering his fourth year, took reps in OTAs at inside linebacker but in camp has lined up on the outside. In season, Reed could be expected to do both and his work ethic on the field and in the meeting rooms has earned him praise from Vrabel.
"I think the most valuable players on every football team are guys that can play multiple positions," Vrabel said. "You have to be careful not to overload guys but we feel good enough about Brooks that he can learn more than one position because we only get to take 45 guys to the game. So you better be able to do more than one thing."