Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was dressed out for practice Sunday as a nonparticipant in drills.
That was according to the plan the Texans have established for their first-round draft pick as he had a day off as maintenance for his surgically-repaired foot. The former LSU standout and blue-chip recruit is on schedule for the first game of the regular season and has excelled during full-team drills.
Texans center Justin Britt is regularly given veteran's days off, including Sunday, because of a previous knee injury.
“We have a plan for a few of our guys that are coming off injuries," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "It's a scheduled day off for Derek, Justin Britt and a few others, but as you can see the days we've asked him to play, he's performed well and getting better. Learning, growing, love what he's doing.”
Several players didn't practice Sunday, including offensive guard Kenyon Green (knee), linebacker Christian Harris (hamstring), tight end Antony Auclair (right knee), cornerback Kendall Sheffield, offensive tackle Tytus Howard (COVID-19), wide receiver Drew Estrada (leg), defensive end Rasheem Green and wide receiver Chester Rogers (ankle). Long snapper Jon Weeks returned to practice after missing a handful of practices for personal reasons. And defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo returned to practice after being rested for a few days.
Stingley's activity is being ramped up incrementally because he previously underwent surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot. Stingley has looked explosive and sure-footed in his movements. He covers ground quickly, backpedaling and cutting with confidence. He's been as advertised as the third overall pick. He has also caught a few punts during special-teams work.
He is on schedule for the first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts. How much he'll do during preseason games is still being determined.
"Yes, I do," Smith said. "Whenever a player is coming out with a major injury, this ramp-up period, that's what it's for. We're going to ease him into it. He's healthy, seeing him run around. He's on schedule."
At 6'0", 190 pounds, with a recorded 4.37 40-yard dash, Stingley has speed to burn. The Texans identified him as the top cornerback on their draft board and thus, selected him one pick before the New York Jets drafted Cincinnati All-American corner Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. Then, Stingley signed a fully guaranteed, four-year, $34.6 million contract that includes a $22.3 million signing bonus and a fifth-year club option.
"Great start," cornerback Steven Nelson said of Stingley's early returns. "It's limitless to me. His potential is through the roof."
A former freshman All-American and two-time All-SEC selection, Stingley is a former five-star recruit who finished his college career with 73 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
"Stingley got that demeanor," wide receiver Brandin Cooks said. "He reminds me of a guy that I played with -- not going to say any names -- but that guy was special. Quiet guy, come out here, and he's about business."
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.