The best part of returning to practice for Jadeveon Clowney?
Being back together with his teammates.
"Laughing and giggling with the guys," Clowney said on Monday. "They gave me a hard time today, first day back. They were like, 'New kid on the team,' so you know, it's fun."
The outside linebacker spent all of OTAs, minicamp and the first two weeks of training camp on a side
field rehabbing from a December microfracture surgery on a knee. Monday was his first practice with the Texans since last November.
Inside linebacker Brian Cushing, himself a veteran of two knee surgeries, led the way in ribbing Clowney. But he was also proud of the way the 2014 first overall pick attacked rehab over the last nine months.
"He is very passionate, motivated, and focused towards getting back here and playing," Cushing said. "The kid loves football and did a great job in the offseason getting back towards that."
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph was impressed by the planning and preparation Clowney spent on the comeback trail.
"I think he did his research as well," Joseph said. "I am on the outside looking in, but this is just from speaking to him day to day. He talked with guys who played before who have had the injury. I think he went down his whole checklist and just making sure everything was in order, and I think he stuck to the plan. Everything worked itself out."
Fellow outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus said Clowney's enthusiasm to get back was evident the past few months.
"Clowney is always excited," Mercilus said. "He's definitely excited. He's wanted to be a part of the group instead of all the way over there on the side of the field, instead of spectating."
The Texans will incrementally add to Clowney's workload in the weeks to come. He and the Texans practice again on Tuesday morning at the Houston Methodist Training Center, and head coach Bill O'Briein said he didn't know when Clowney would appear in a game.
View photos from the 49ers-Texans game at NRG Stadium on August 15th.