RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said the core muscle that sidelined him in Week 12 due to injury is feeling better, but he didn't rule out the possibility it will eventually require surgery.
Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the Seahawks (9-2) are "counting on" their best pass-rusher making it back in time for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings (8-3), but that came with a qualifier that Clowney "still has to make it."
An upbeat Clowney spoke with reporters before practice Friday. He was listed as a nonparticipant on the team's first practice report of the week and was listed as practicing to a limited extent on Friday.
"I'm feeling better," he said before practice began. "Getting ready to go today. See how it's going to go."
The injury stems from the Seahawks' game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10, although Clowney couldn't pinpoint the moment it happened. By the end of Seattle's overtime victory, he said, it was difficult to lift his leg. Clowney had his best game of the season with a sack, five quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
"I told them I'll finish this game and see what happens after I'm done," Clowney said.
Clowney was inactive for the Seahawks' win over the Eagles on Sunday after traveling to Philadelphia early to see Dr. William Meyers, who specializes in core-muscle injuries. Clowney received an unspecified treatment from Meyers. Clowney said he thought about getting the injury treated over Seattle's bye the week before but didn't realize its severity until the team returned from its break on Monday and it wasn't healed.
Asked about not needing surgery, Clowney said: "Not at this moment, I don't. That's a good thing. I ain't too worried about it. I'm feeling better today. Worry about tomorrow when it gets here. Live for today."
The 26-year-old Clowney has arguably been the Seahawks' most impactful defender even though he has only three sacks. He ranks fourth in the NFL in ESPN's pass rush win rate at 26.6%. That metric, which is powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, measures how frequently a defender beats his pass block in 2.5 seconds or quicker. He has scored two defensive touchdowns and ranks 13th in the NFL with 35 pressures, according to ESPN charting.
Clowney is unsigned beyond this season and wouldn't be eligible to sign a new deal with the Seahawks until the regular season ends, per the rules for players who were assigned the franchise tag, as Clowney was by the Houston Texans. The Seahawks agreed to not use the tag on Clowney as part of the deal they made to acquire him from Houston right before this season.
Clowney acknowledged that his core injury is something he'll have to manage the rest of the season.
"Oh yeah. They know that," he said. "Something we know, but got to finish this thing strong."