Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will not play in a preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, coach Lovie Smith announced.
The Texans are taking a ramp-up, precautionary approach with their first-round draft pick as maintenance, including giving him a day off Sunday, after he underwent foot surgery previously for a Lisfranc fracture.
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 starting quarterback Davis Mills will play against the Saints on Saturday night at NRG Stadium, perhaps appearing in a few series.
"We have a play count we would like to get for him," Smith said. "He will play."
Texans backup quarterback Kyle Allen tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the game against the Saints, per a league source.
Allen didn't practice Thursday and will miss the game with Smith attributing the absence to personal reasons.
"He'll be out for personal reasons," Smith said. "He will not play in the game."
The Texans signed Allen, a former University of Houston starter, was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with a maximum value of $3 million this offseason.
Several other players didn't practice Thursday night: linebacker Garret Wallow (ankle], rookie offensive guard and first-round draft pick Kenyon Green (knee), tight end Antony Auclair (sprained right knee), rookie linebacker Christian Harris (hamstring), wide receiver Drew Estrada (leg), offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and wide receiver Chester Rogers (ankle). Rookie defensive tackle Thomas Booker returned to practice. Green watched, and is making progress from offseason surgery. He isn't in a brace and this marked the first practice he had attended in roughly a week.
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.
"Whenever a player is coming out with a major injury, this ramp-up period, that's what it's for," Smith said. "We're going to ease him into it. He's healthy, seeing him run around. He's on schedule."
At 6-foot, 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.