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David Clowney: Curbing his enthusiasm to get to the next level.
By Jane McManus
JetsInsider.com Feature Columnist
October 28th, 2009
Jets WR David Clowney has learned from his mistakes and had a break out game against Oakland last week where he scored his first NFL TD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)
Jets WR David Clowney has learned from his mistakes and had a break out game against Oakland last week where he scored his first NFL TD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - When David Clowney was at his lowest this season, upset that his fastest years as a wide receiver might be wasted on the bench, he talked to fellow Floridian Leon Washington about it.

“He talked to me, ‘Keep your head up keep grinding you'll get your chance eventually, somebody gonna go down or something isn’t going to go right and they’re going to need you,’” Clowney said. “He always talked to me about things like that just to keep my head up.”

So when Clowney and Washington texted in the wake of a season-ending injury to the running back last week, even as Washington was in California recovering from surgery to set the bones in his lower leg, he had unprompted words of encouragement.

"He said he was real hype for me, real proud the way I played,” said Clowney, who sent Washington prayers and good wishes for recovery. Washington is set to return to New York today.

After starting three straight games as starting WR Jerricho Cotchery healed from a hamstring injury, Clowney has eight catches for 151 yards for the Jets, and last week scored his first touchdown in the 38-0 win over Oakland.

“I got so much love for the game I just want to be out there,” Clowney said.

But that desire can get twisted and Clowney can admit that he was angry earlier this season. After sitting for nearly two years under former Jets coach Eric Mangini, the wide receiver thought he had impressed Rex Ryan with a preseason of catches, including a memorable 48-yarder from Mark Sanchez against St. Louis.

But once the games started to count, the man from Delray Beach, Florida was firmly on the bench.

It came to a head when Clowney voiced his frustration in a tweet after the win over the Patriots on Sept. 20, “A bit disappointed about my playing time but very happy and satisfied about the win.”

He followed that with another one that said the team came first so he was going to keep grinding. Ryan was upset when he learned of the first one, but Clowney and Ryan talked it out and Clowney said they understood each other.

Clowney showed up on the inactives list against Tennessee not because of the tweet, but because he hadn’t been putting in the effort like he needed to. He let his performance slip during practice as he became more disappointed.

“I let me not playing in the first two games as much as I thought I would especially after the preseason, affect me in practice,” Clowney said. “I let it bother me let it get to me and I can’t do that, I’ve got to be professional.”

On Wednesday, Clowney was sidelined with a sprained left ankle, but said he’d be ready to go against Miami this weekend. Cotchery, who was limited in practice with the hamstring, said he also expected to be ready to play.

“I feel I could’ve practiced today,” Clowney said, but added that the Jets trainers are more cautious and don’t want to repeat Cotchery’s setback.

Ultimately, the trip to the inactives list might have set Clowney straight with Ryan, who told the player he was a fan of the way he stretched the field. The Twitter angle might have gotten overblown as a reason for the benching, but the wide doesn’t disagree with the decision.

“It mainly had to do with my performance in practice and I completely agree with coach, I was slipping in practice a little bit and I can’t do that,” he said.

Still, he emphasized that he didn’t want to come off as a guy gunning for glory, but rather as a player who wants to be in the game.

“When the team is winning you want to be a part of that win,” Clowney said.