It won’t take long for this Texans rookie to get thrown into the spotlight.
You could say there are fairly high expectations surrounding Houston Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
After being selected third overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, Stingley is expected to step in and be the lockdown corner Houston so desperately needs.
But is the former LSU cornerback up to for the task of not only being a lockdown corner, but doing it in Week 1 against a tough Indianapolis Colts offense, now led at quarterback by Matt Ryan?
Stingley has all the tools needed to be a true number one corner in the NFL. His freshman year tape at LSU is some of the most dominant ever. That season Stingley only allowed 29 completions, along with holding quarterbacks to a 42-percent completion percentage. This led to the LSU star being named Freshman of the Year by Pro Football Focus.
Yet it wasn’t all easy following his freshman season. Stingley was faced with adversity, dealing with multiple injuries in the ensuing seasons, but the talent is still there or he wouldn’t have been a Top 3 draft pick. The new Texans cornerback is now healthy, and ready to go after starting back-to-back preseason games.
His first test isn’t a light one though, as he figures to be the Texans’ most important player in Week 1.
Texans, Stingley must stop the Colts offense in Week 1 at NRG Stadium
When you think of the Colts, their running back Jonathan Taylor is probably the first name that comes to mind. This is especially true if you’re a Texans fan, as Taylor totaled nearly 300 yards rushing in the two games against Houston last season. So wouldn’t that make a Texans linebacker or defensive lineman the most important player as they’re dealt the challenge of limiting Taylor?
New head coach Lovie Smith should be dead set on not letting Taylor beat Houston this Sunday. This should lead to stacked boxes, ultimately forcing the Colts to throw the football and that is where Stingley comes into the picture.
The matchup against Indy should feature a lot of battles between Stingley and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Most of which figure to see Stingley left on an island one-on-one with the Colts wideout.
That’s not an easy task considering Pittman is no slouch. He totaled over 80 catches and 1,000 yards last season, and received what many consider to be a quarterback upgrade this offseason with Ryan now at the helm, and not Carson Wentz.
Stingley instantly finds himself in the spotlight against one of the better receivers in the NFL. If he can hold his own, Houston should have a chance at the upset against a franchise they’ve lost their past four meetings against. If he can’t however, the Colts likely will be starting their season off with a win.