Jadeveon Clowney is healthy and happy after a week of minicamp practice in Cleveland.
It's June, prime season for the bliss of a football honeymoon phase, and Clowney has found himself quite a running mate with the Browns: Myles Garrett. After standing out as the physical freak with every team for which he's played in his career, Clowney is no longer alone as a marvelous specimen.
"It's funny," Clowney said following his first practice with Garrett, via the Associated Press' Tom Withers. "I haven't run into many guys like that in the National Football League yet. It took me eight years to get here to find another one like that, on defense, anyways."
So far, so good for Clowney, Garrett and the Browns, who have only worked together in shorts and helmets, but appear to be getting along rather quickly.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods likes to move his defensive linemen around to create unusual mismatches and confusion for opposing blockers. It's not all that uncommon to see Garrett suddenly lining up in a 3 technique with an opportunity to take on a guard or team up with a fellow defender in a stunt to create a free lane to the quarterback. With Clowney now in the mix, opposing offenses could be looking at a front featuring the two lined up next to each other, with free-agent addition Takkarist McKinley potentially manning the vacant edge rusher opposite them.
Clowney said he's open to whatever Woods has planned for he and Garrett. After an abbreviated season without a takedown, he seems content with joining a contending team that won't immediately turn attention toward him solely because of his presence on the field.
"I thrive in moving around, but I thrive in going forward," he said. "You get that?"
From 2017-2020, Clowney and Garrett have recorded 64 sacks combined, and that's with Clowney's zero-sack 2020 season included. When Garrett has played on the same front as an effective fellow edge rusher -- in 2020, it was Olivier Vernon, who enjoyed a nice rebound -- he's been very productive, recording 12 sacks before COVID-19 robbed him of peak aerobic performance.
With Garrett on one side, Clowney knows defenses won't be able to consistently double-team both of them. And above all, he's just happy to be healthy and back to work.
"The thing about me, man, I like to have fun no matter what team I go to or where I go," Clowney said. "I'm an excited guy. I know it's a job, but I try to say it's football first. I always enjoy playing football. It's not really a job.
"We've got the best job in the world. Why not put a smile on your face when you're out there running around and they pay you for this and I would play for free?"
He might not be playing for free, but Clowney is playing for significantly less than his market commanded less than two years ago. It seems as if money isn't nearly as much of a motivator, though, at least not after Clowney didn't waste much time signing with Cleveland following a visit to the team this spring.
Instead, Clowney will be driven by the thought of pursuing a quarterback. With Garrett alongside him, those pursuits might end up becoming that much easier.