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Houston Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley has looked the part of a potential team cornerstone.
With great power, comes great responsibility; and for rookies in training camp, that often means absorbing knowledge and understanding the ins and outs of the NFL.
Texans coach Lovie Smith believes the No. 3 overall pick is acing that part of the test, thanks to his willingness to be coachable.
“Guys are coachable or they’re not and you can tell right away,” Smith told reporters on Friday after day six of training camp at Houston Methodist Training Center. “If you just meet him you can tell he’s going to be a coachable guy. He’s eager to learn. He’s like a sponge.”
The Texans are banking on turning Stingley’s immense potential into pro-level production. The 6-1, 195-pound defensive back started 15 games for LSU as an 18-year-old true freshman in 2019, and tallied six interceptions with 15 pass breakups.
The COVID-shortened 2020 campaign and the injury-riddled 2021 season hampred Stingley as he dealt with ankle sprains and a Lisfranc injury to his left foot.
After enduring surgery on Sept. 26, 2021, Stingley was given a four to six month window until he was expected to be 100% fully recovered. Nearly a year removed from surgery, the Texans have been playing it safe with their crown jewel and easing him into form, as the long term future takes priority.
Part of the infusion of Stingley in the defense has been making sure the rookie is in rhythm.
“The big thing for him was for us to get him on the football field and let him continue to play, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Smith.
As Stingley has been ramping up his practice work, participating in individual and team drills, it’s clear to all that he’s a natural. The reps he’s been gaining versus accomplished veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks will pay off in the future.