NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Before his first snap, Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney had questions.
What if someone took a shot at his right knee? What's going to happen when he gets cut blocked?
"I was thinking about all that before the game," Clowney said. "But guys were just like just come out here and play. I never had a major injury like this so I was just trying to come out there and build confidence and have fun."
His knee was not feeling like he wanted it to feel.
"No, but that's part of the game," Clowney said. "You ain't always healthy playing football so just go out there do what I can do, help the team out as much as possible. Felt great to be out there with my teammates, not on the sideline with a T-shirt or something."
The league's No. 1 overall pick entered the game on a first down during the Titans' second offensive drive. "I was just like, ‘All right, knee, let's go ahead and see what we can do,'" Clowney said.
His snaps were limited. Texans coach Bill O'Brien said there were certain packages in which the Texans used Clowney. When he played, it was usually opposite outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who started in his place during the past six weeks.
"Let's say you go to my second move, like if I get stuck on the first one, to power up on the outside, (I couldn't) push the pocket like I wanted to," Clowney said. "I just gotta keep getting stronger, get my leg back stronger, build more confidence in my leg, it's going to get better week by week."
He suffered the injury in the first half of his first regular-season NFL game. Clowney had surgery on Sept. 8 and was inactive for the following five games. He was listed as questionable for last week's "Monday Night Football" game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but wasn't able to cut well enough to play.
It pleased Clowney that during the game he did take a hit to his surgically repaired knee once, and was able to keep playing. That allowed his confidence in his knee to grow.
"I think there's probably some plays he wishes he had back," O'Brien said. "But overall I thought he gave good effort. I saw him chasing some things down there at the end of the game, it looks like he was moving well."
One of those plays Clowney probably wishes he had back was a near-sack late in the game. He might have had it, too, if he admittedly hadn't tried to poke the ball out and force a fumble as well.
"It was good to see him get his feet wet," Texans' nose tackle Ryan Pickett said. "Get out there and see some action. He's going to be good. ... Just needs to get his confidence back in his knee 100 percent."