HOUSTON (AP) — Jadeveon Clowney is ready to shine in prime time.
The No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft failed to make an impact in his first two injury-plagued seasons. But now he's healthy, playing well and ready for a national audience Thursday when the Houston Texans visit a New England Patriots team that will likely start rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
It will be just the second time Clowney has played in a nationally televised game after he sat out three of Houston's four night games in his first two years because of various injuries.
When asked if he's ready to show what he can do, a big smile crept across his face and he let out a small laugh before gathering himself to provide an answer.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be big for the team."
A win would give the Texans a 3-0 start for the first time since they opened the 2012 season 5-0. Houston has been helped by an improved offense led by new quarterback Brock Osweiler and rookie receiver Will Fuller, but through the first two games the defense has been the strength of this team.
Clowney has been a key to the unit's early success with seven tackles, including three for losses, a sack, five quarterback hits and a batted down pass. He's doing a little bit of everything these days and the word coaches and teammates use most often to describe him is "disruptive."
In his first two seasons, Clowney lined up as an outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's 3-4 scheme. Since Clowney was healthy throughout training camp, it has given the Texans more freedom to use the 6-foot-5, 266-pound player in different ways, and he's mostly played defensive end in the first two games.
Regardless of where they put him, the Texans have been impressed with Clowney's hustle this year.