No. 1 NFL Draft pick Jadeveon Clowney will miss 4-6 weeks after hurting his MCL in Houston’s 17-3 win over Washington on Sunday.
After the game, Texans safety D.J. Swearinger said that Clowney told him he injured his knee after he “hit one of the holes in the field” at Houston’s NRG Stadium. Swearinger told the NFL Network’s Albert Breer:
“He told me on the field when it happened, he was just like, ‘Bro, I just jumped, came down and hit one of the holes on the field.’ There are a few holes in the grass, so he said he thought he stepped on one of those holes and got hurt.”
NRG Stadium is a dome with a retractable roof. For Texans games, the grounds crew brings in “trays” of grass that are grown outdoors and fits them together so it looks like a one, consistent field.
Here it is under construction last Wednesday:
A better view from a preseason game shows that the floor of the stadium is concrete, on top of which the trays are placed:
The seams and trays of the grass field up close, from a 2011 YouTube video:
Here’s what it looked like yesterday (via Deadspin):
Not all football games at the stadium are played on grass. The LSU-Wisconsin college game in late August was played on artificial turf.
The stadium has had numerous problems with its natural grass fields before.
The AC Milan-Chivas friendly on August 6th was plagued by a poor field. AC Milan’s coach said after the match, “It was a situation where neither team wanted to play on the field.”
It looked like this:
“The turf down there is terrible. It’s terrible. It’s just inconsistent. It’s all the little trays of grass and some of them are soft and some of them are firm and they don’t all fit well together, those seams. … Some of it feels like a sponge, some of it feels real firm and hard like the Miami surface. One step you’re on one, the other step you’re on another. I really think it’s one of the worst fields I’ve seen.”
In 2012 punter Brett Hartmann sued the owners of the stadium, claiming that the poor field led to an injury when his foot got caught in a seam between the grass trays.
Coach Bill O’Brien voiced his support for the natural grass field in the preseason, saying grass fields yield fewer injuries that artificial fields on average.
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