Texans coach DeMeco Ryans says CB Derek Stingley, S Jalen Pitre ‘play with their hair on fire’
DeMeco Ryans was given a gift for his defense when he took the Houston Texans job.
The former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator had two young defensive backs waiting for him on the Texans’ roster in Derek Stingley and Jalen Pitre. Both former 2022 draft picks demonstrated their potential for Houston in an otherwise moribund 3-13-1 campaign that saw the firing of Lovie Smith at the end of the season.
Stingley played just nine games at cornerback, but generated 43 combined tackles, 1.0 sack, five pass breakups, and an interception through nine games, all of which he started. A hamstring injury in Week 10 at the New York Giants kept him out for the rest of the season.
Pitre saw more playing time, starting all 17 games. The former Stanford High School product led the team with 147 combined tackles and five interceptions to go along with his five tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, 1.0 sack, and eight quarterback hits.
The tandem gives Ryans something to work with.
“Pitre and Stingley, those guys fit any defense because they’re both play maker,” Ryans said May 23 during organized team activities. “They’re instinctive. They’re fast. They’re physical, and they love playing football. They like to play with their hair on fire.”
The Texans used their No. 3 overall pick in 2022 to take Stingley, who recently drew praise from retired All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Pitre was available with the No. 37 overall pick in Round 2.
“Any defense we play, anything I call, those guys are going to make it work because they are such great players and they love playing the game,” Ryans said.
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