There were many questions surrounding how the Houston Texans would use Jalen Pitre when he was selected out of Baylor with the 37th overall pick.
The Stafford High School alumnus played a wide variety of roles for the Bears that included cornerback, linebacker and time at safety. With needs across the board for the Texans and coach Lovie Smith’s defense, speculation abounded as to where Pitre would be mostly utilized.
The preseason has brought major clarity to Pitre’s status with the Texans and to how his rookie season may play out in Houston. He started the entire first half on Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers playing primarily at the safety position and had five total tackles including an impressive tackle for loss on fourth down.
The preseason finale suggests two important developments to watch as Pitre rolls into the regular season.
Jalen Pitre will start in a “box safety” role
Jalen Pitre will quite likely lead Houston in tackles this season
Nowhere to run 🤫 @JalenPitre1
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 26, 2022
Pitre’s job on the field has allowed him to come towards the line of scrimmage and make plays against the run game on first and second down. During pure passing downs, it’s evident that the staff is comfortable having him drop back into more of a traditional free safety role. Their comfort with him in all phases of their defense should signal a near 100% snap count for Pitre’s rookie season.
Another development was also evident in San Francisco in that Pitre is often going to be tasked with cleaning up the defense’s mess. Houston looks like they may have trouble stopping the interior run on early downs and the tackling at the second level thus far has been suspect. It’s created multiple situations where Pitre is making tackles he ideally wouldn’t have to with better play from the Texans’ front seven. This manifested multiple times against San Francisco as he would end runs after six or seven yards gained.
That's why you draft Jalen Pitre.
Hell of a tackle in the backfield to send the 49ers off the field on 4th and 2 #WeAreTexans
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) August 26, 2022
The preseason spells a potentially special rookie season for Pitre. It’s quite possible he’ll lead Houston in tackles, force a number of takeaways, and maybe even have his name considered for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year if he can make enough impact plays behind the line of scrimmage. His high tackle total could also spell trouble for the rest of the defense if Pitre is needed so often.
Fans will be able to watch Pitre for a full game on Sept. 11 against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium.