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Minicamp report: Texans’ Watt sees more mature Clowney


The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON — Defensive lineman J.J. Watt is beginning to be impressed with Jadeveon Clowney, his younger teammate on the Houston Texans front seven.

The NFL’s premier defensive player knew that the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft had to prove himself in his new world. As a result, Watt was hesitant to put Clowney on a pedestal last season, especially before he accomplished anything in the pros.

A rookie year lost to injuries turned Clowney’s debut year into a washout. But with the linebacker impressing coach Bill O’Brien and the Texans this offseason as he rehabs from microfracture surgery, Watt said Wednesday that he already sees a different Clowney in Year Two.

“We obviously want to get him back on the field, that’s the first thing; we want to get him healthy,” Watt said at NRG Stadium. “But I have seen him mature, I can say that, and it’s a good sign.

“He’s been growing as a person and we’re excited to get him back on the field, whenever that may be, and he’s going to be a good addition to our team.”

O’Brien is hard on rookies, pushing the first-year players to adapt to the strict requirements of their new professional world. But 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson has already made a strong impression on the demanding coach.

Johnson has played with confidence during offseason workouts, made several highlight-worthy plays and was singled out by O’Brien on Wednesday.

“Kevin Johnson is a young player who’s got a really bright future,” O’Brien said following the second of a three-day minicamp. “He’s learning the game, the pro game. He’s got some really good guys to learn from in his coaches, obviously (defensive backs coach) John Butler, but also Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson.

“What Kevin does well is he’s a smart guy, he’s a hard worker. He’s a very good transitional player. So he’s able to see it … and he’s able to transition very well — he’s got good quickness.”

The key for Johnson and all the Texans’ rookies, O’Brien said: “How do they do when the full pads go on?”

–Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, safety Lonnie Ballentine and veteran receiver Nate Washington were among the Texans whom O’Brien tipped his hat to on Wednesday.

“He’s got a lot of experience; he’s had a good (offseason program),” O’Brien said, referring to Washington. “He’s made a connection with both quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett). He works hard. All our receivers have worked very hard.”

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