"Clowney’s been out here every day practicing hard," O'Brien said. "He’s a guy that’s gotten better. He understands our system, he understands the scheme and he understands his role in it. I think he’s added a couple of pass-rush moves. He’s getting better every day."
Clowney is entering his third NFL season since being drafted first overall in 2014 and it's a critical year for him. He has said he wants to dominate the league this year and has vowed to do it. But any progress he makes starts in training camp.
To that end, Clowney changed his routine a bit this offseason.
"I just stretched a lot more, went to yoga, chiropractor," Clowney said. "I did everything that I wasn’t doing before. It’s starting to help me a lot, so everything is coming together at the right time."
This is a season in which Clowney can prove his career won't be defined by injury. By this time in his rookie season, he already had one surgery. He also suffered a concussion before the Texans' third preseason game in 2014. Then Clowney suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee during the Texans' season opener that led to arthroscopic surgery and ultimately microfracture surgery. The drama affiliated with that injury meant Clowney played in only four games that season, and he wasn't truly healthy for any of them.
The lengthy recovery that followed might have affected his ability to be healthy in 2015. Clowney missed games with an ankle injury, a back injury and finally the Lisfranc, or midfoot, sprain that prevented him from playing in the team's playoff game.
He has spent the offseason healthy and hasn't missed any practices. He's also got a heavy workload in camp. O'Brien has even had Clowney in for some special-teams reps, and he said he expects to use him there in games.
"Well, he can help us on special teams," O'Brien said. "... We’ve got to be better on special teams and if that means some starters need to be on special teams, they are willing to do it. That’s what’s the good thing about these guys."
It's all a sign of his progress.
"Staying on the field," Clowney said. "That’s the biggest step for me this year, play more games -- play all 16, really."