Houston will be playing their first preseason game this Sunday against the 49ers. They will hold a joint practice with San Francisco on Friday leading up to the contest. The Texans, like every team, are dealing with some injuries, but there have been a couple of very notable absences from recent practices.
Jadeveon Clowney has been “rested” the last three days of practice. Clowney not practicing has become all too common place. Coach Bill O’Brien insists there is nothing seriously wrong, and they are just giving him some time off. And while it’s true that Clowney has been present at practice, stretching, walking around, and working out with a medicine ball, this is still cause for concern. Texans fans, including yours truly, are really beginning to wonder if Clowney has what it takes to be an everyday NFL player.
Clowney’s injury history is well-documented. First it was microfracture surgery causing him to miss all of his rookie year, and last year he dealt with back and foot issues. He was able to play in 13 games, but Houston expects much more from the former number one overall pick. On a recently released depth chart, he is listed as one of the starting outside linebackers, so it will be very telling whether or not Clowney practices and plays this weekend. Nothing official has been reported injury-wise, but it is something to keep an eye on.
Houston took Notre Dame center Nick Martin in the second round of this year’s draft. He has already been penciled in as the starter. Martin, like Clowney, has been held out of practice for the last three days. While he has earned heavy praise from his coaches, this is also a reason to be worried. The offensive line continues to be one of the biggest question marks heading into the season.
Martin is the guy who is to be counted on to anchor the group, and as a rookie, every practice is extremely valuable. Houston is already without starting tackles Duane Brown and Derek Newton. They are counting on free agent guard Jeff Allen to replace Brandon Brooks, and hoping that Xavier Su-a’filo will develop more consistency at the other guard.
As of right now, Houston will look to Kendall Lamm and Chris Clark to start at tackle. Lamm is a second year player and Clark is a veteran who has filled in for Brown in the past. The ability for the O-line to gel is hugely important for this team. They need to protect Brock Osweiler, and they need to open up holes for Lamar Miller and company. If for some reason Martin is unable to go, it’s assumed that free agent acquisition Tony Bergstrom will take his place. This much shuffling in the line already is very worrisome.
Tomorrow we will take a look around the league to see how other teams are faring.
Header image based on “Clowney” by Leslie (CC BY-NC 2.0)