Texans rookie CB Derek Stingley worked as punt returner

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The Houston Texans selected Derek Stingley No. 3 overall in the 2022 NFL draft because they needed the LSU standout to lockdown at cornerback in their Tampa 2 scheme.

On the second day of training camp at Houston Methodist Training Center, the former Bayou Bengal was fielding punts.

The prospect of Stingley being a part of the return game isn’t that far off. While Stingley did not field punts in his abbreviated three-game season a year ago, he did have experience as a returner in the prior two seasons.

In 2020, the best case for Stingley’s promise as a returner was on display as he had a 16.2 yards per punt return through seven games.

In 2019, a more realistic body of work was available as the freshman fielded 17 punts for 163 yards — 9.6 average — through 15 games.

Coach Lovie Smith told reporters on July 30 that Stingley fielding punts was part of evaluating what further contributions the first-rounder could make to the roster on game days.

“Yeah, Stingley can do a lot of things,” said Smith. “Punt returner is one of them. Now I’m not saying that he for sure is going to for sure be our punt returner, but the more things you can do. You probably noticed Derek getting more reps today. We’ll continue to bring him along at the pace that we had set up before camp started. He gets a little better each day, too.”

The Texans’ punt return game was led by cornerback Desmond King, who had a 9.1 yards per punt return. If Stingley is able to give the Texans another option at punt returner to setup favorable field position for the offense, it should be part of the “1% better” approach to help Houston break out of its four-win rut that has ensnared the organization for the past two seasons.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire