By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610By Paul Gallant

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It’s been a tough year for Texans rookie outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. The first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft has played in just 4 of Houston’s 12 games this year due to a variety of injuries.

Head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t typically comment on players injuries. But at his press conference Monday, he made it abundantly clear that Clowney is doing everything in his power to get back on the field.

“This guy has worked extremely hard to recover from injuries,” said O’Brien. “We think very highly of him. We know that he’s going to be a really good player. And he’s been unlucky . . . He’s had a sports hernia, he’s had a concussion, and now he’s dealing with a knee injury. And those things are not easy in your rookie year.”

Despite the vote of confidence, O’Brien isn’t sure if Clowney will return to the field in Jacksonville against the Jaguars Sunday.

“We’ll have to see how he feels,” said O’Brien. “We’ll take him out there and run and see if he can cut, and do some of the things that really make him the player that he is. And he’ll be honest with us. He’s a good kid. He’s a good teammate. And he’s working hard to get back out there on the field.”

Clowney isn’t the only Texan trying to get back on the field. Cornerback Kareem Jackson has missed the last three games after suffering a knee injury against the Eagles November 2nd. O’Brien didn’t give a lot of insight on Jackson’s status today, but seemed optimistic.

“I do believe it’s day to day,” said O’Brien. “But I feel better about his chances of playing this week then I did at this point last week.”

The Texans haven’t had back to back wins since the first two games of the season, where they opened the year with victories over the Redskins and Raiders. To get on a winning streak, O’Brien believes his team needs to do what did last week in practice.

“It’s vitally important to go out there and have a great week of practice,” said O’Brien. “And I think that’s what we did last week . . . There was a lot of energy. Guys were really detailed and focused. And that’s what we have to do this week again.”

Houston will likely be heavily favored – despite being on the road – against Jacksonville, a 2-10 team. But according to O’Brien, they’re much tougher than their record indicates.

“I don’t care what their record is,” said O’Brien. “I really don’t. And it’s not coach speak. It’s the truth. This team is a talented team. Well coached. I have a lot of respect for Gus Bradley. The way that he coaches. The energy that he brings to their team. They were down 21 to the New York Giants and came back and won the game. They’ve got a really good rookie quarterback in Blake Bortles . . . I mean they’ve got a lot of talented players.”

According to a report this offseason by Tony Pauline, the Texans’ first overall pick in May’s draft came down to two players: Jadeveon Clowney – who they obviously drafted, and Bortles, now the Jaguars quarterback. Bill O’Brien explained his pre-draft evaluation of Bortles.

“The one thing that stood out to me was when I met him,” said O’Brien. “That he was an outstanding young man. Obviously I’m very close to the guys that coached him in college (Central Florida head coach George O’Leary, among others). And they had great things to say about him. He was a stand up guy . . . Just a real honest kid, and he’s a talented player.”


Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

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