Derek Stingley Jr.

Texans Place RB Dameon Pierce On IR

Dameon Pierce‘s season has come to an end. The Texans have placed the rookie running back on injured reserve, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

Pierce suffered a high ankle sprain during Houston’s Week 14 loss to the Cowboys, although initial reports indicated that the injury was mild. It was believed that the rookie RB may only have to miss a game or two, which wouldn’t necessitate a move to IR. Instead, the Texans decided to shut down Pierce for the year.

The fourth-round rookie has quickly established himself as an offensive focal point in Houston. He’s started all 13 games for the Texans, and he leads all rookies with 939 rushing yards. In total, the Florida product has contributed 1,104 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. With Pierce out for the final four games, the Texans will likely turn to Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale to lead their RB room. Royce Freeman will also be signed to the active roster, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter).

Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth are also heading to IR, per Yates. Stingley, the third-overall pick in this year’s draft, hasn’t played since Week 10 while recovering from a hamstring injury. He started each of his nine appearances for the Texans this season, collecting 43 tackles and one interception. After starting the season in Kansas City, Stallworth got into one game for Houston in 2022.

There is some good news on the injury front. According to Wilson (on Twitter), the Texans have also activated defensive lineman Jon Greenard from IR. Greenard had eight sacks in 12 starts last season, and he started each of Houston’s first four games this year before landing on IR. To round out their moves, the Texans signed defensive back Jacobi Francis to the 53-man roster and have promoted defensive back Will Redmond and tight end Mason Schreck from the practice squad.

AFC Rumors: Texans, Jeudy, Njoku

The Texans will be without two key players as they go up against their former quarterback and the Browns this weekend, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. Leading wide receiver Brandin Cooks and rookie cornerback Derek Stingley have been ruled out going into the weekend.

Houston has struggled mightily so far this year en route to a 1-9-1 record. Despite the promise heading into the year of the connection between second-year starting quarterback Davis Mills and Cooks, neither has quite lived up to their potential. Mills has officially lost the starting job he earned as a rookie, getting benched for Kyle Allen. Cooks, after cracking the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his first two seasons with the Texans, will be hard-pressed to reach that achievement this year as he currently boasts 520 receiving yards with only seven games remaining. Cooks will miss his second game of the season with a calf injury, and the Texans will be forced to lean on Nico Collins, Chris Moore, Phillip Dorsett, and Amari Rodgers to hopefully make up for the loss of Cooks.

Stingley is set to miss his third game in a row with a hamstring issue. Stingley has endured a rough transition to the NFL. So far in his rookie season, Stingley has only graded out as the NFL’s 107th-best cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Still, he is third on the Texans with five passes defensed and tied for second with one interception, showing that he makes an impact on a defense that has struggled for much of the year. In Stingley’s absence, Desmond King will continue to start opposite Steven Nelson with Tavierre Thomas getting some solid action, as well.

Here are a few other injury rumors from around the AFC, starting with some potentially good news at Mile High:

  • Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy could be set to make a return to the field against the Ravens this weekend, according to Kyle Newman of the Denver Post. After a two-week absence, the third-year wide out is a game-time decision to play. KJ Hamler will miss a fourth straight game, after suffering a recent setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury. Jeudy’s return would be a big boost for a Denver team that has been forced to rely on Kendall Hinton, Montrell Washington, and Brandon Johnson as its Courtland Sutton supporting cast over the past two games.
  • After returning for two straight games, Browns tight end David Njoku has been ruled out once again, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Despite a slow start to the season, Njoku had begun a streak of strong performances to justify his new contract. Unfortunately, his momentum came to a crashing halt when he missed two games with an ankle injury. Coming off a five-catch performance last week that included a game-tying touchdown catch with 32 seconds remaining, seeing Njoku sidelined once again, this time with a knee injury, is the last thing Browns fans were hoping to see.

NFL Injury Updates: Woods, Patrick, Adams, Stingley

With Tennessee trading wide receiver A.J. Brown during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft in order to select Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks, the Titans will now look to former Bills and Rams wide receiver Robert Woods to serve as the team’s No. 1 receiving option. This puts lots of pressure on Woods as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered in practice last November

While Woods was acquired for a sixth-round pick and Burks was acquired with a first (via the Brown-trade), Woods nine years as a starter and veteran experience places him atop the depth chart over the rookie, Burks, for now. Woods had been experiencing a run of the best football of his career over the last four years. Since 2018, Woods has recorded season receiving totals of 1,219 yards, 1,134 yards, and 936 yards, all higher than any totals from his first five years in the league. He also reached six receiving touchdowns twice in that span, setting new career highs there, as well. At a pace of 61.78 receiving yards per game before his injury last year, Woods was set for his third 1,000-yard season in four years, and, with five total touchdowns, was on pace to set a new career high in scoring, as well.

The good news is that Woods has been full-go at Titans camp so far this month, according to Ben Arthur of The Tennessean. Not only is Woods out there taking live reps at practice, but he’s using the off-periods to work with quarterback Ryan Tannehill on timing and chemistry.

“It’s strong enough. It’s repaired. It’s healed,” Woods said in regards to his knee. “So my mentality going out here and practicing is push it and go. You almost want to like push it to the limit and see what you can do and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NFL this preseason, starting with an update out of the Windy City:

  • It appears that Bears center Lucas Patrick will require surgery on his right hand, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The former Packer is expected to start for new Chicago offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, as he did during their time together in Green Bay. While surgery will take him out of the lineup for a few weeks, the hope is that, by treating it this early in training camp, Patrick will be able to possibly return before the season opener.
  • While it was originally expected that Seahawks safety Jamal Adams would miss time while dealing with previous hand injuries, further reports reveal that he is expected to return to practice soon, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Adams has been dealing with finger injuries for quite some time and, recently, broke a finger when it got stuck in a helmet during practice. Any surgery that may be required will be pushed to the offseason and, for now, he will return to the field “with a club and a special cast for games.”
  • The Texans’ No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., is attempting to bounce back from nagging injuries that limited him to only 10 games of action in his final two years of college. Houston was impressed enough with his freshman year numbers of six interceptions and 21 passes defensed to make him the first cornerback off the board from an impressive group of defensive backs. They also are hoping his injury woes have ended as head coach Lovie Smith said he expects the 21-year-old to be ready for the regular season opener, according to Mark Berman of Fox Sports.

Texans Finish Signing 2022 Draft Class

The Texans wrapped up their nine-man draft class today when they were able to reach an agreement with third-round pick Christian Harris. The Power Five-heavy class includes a plethora of Day 1 and 2 picks and brings home three Houston-natives in guard Kenyon Green, safety Jalen Pitre, and offensive lineman Austin Deculus

The Texans started their haul with four selections in the 2022 NFL Draft’s first 44 picks. Their first addition was cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who will immediately improve a group that currently includes Steven Nelson, Lonnie Johnson Jr., and Desmond King II. The Texans’ secondary struggled greatly at times last year, and defensive-coordinator-turned-head-coach Lovie Smith decided that addressing that weakness was a top priority. Their addition of Pitre in the second round further addresses that need. While listed as a safety, Pitre spent the majority of his career with the Bears in the slot. Whether at safety or slot cornerback, Pitre is a strong addition alongside Stingley to a struggling defense.

Green was the next selection, midway through the first round, and his ability to play on the inside of the line should allow Houston to establish Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard at the tackle positions. The later addition of the swing tackle, Deculus, continued the Texans’ efforts at improving the protection in front of second-year quarterback Davis Mills.

In terms of weapons for Mills, after extending leading receiver Brandin Cooks, Houston added another weapon in slot receiver John Metchie III. The Alabama alum tore his ACL in December, but is assumed to be ready to return to the field sometime this summer.

From there, Houston added linebacker Christian Harris, who is a menace in opposing teams’ backfields. They followed that by addressing a league-worst 3.4 yards per rush and 8 rushing touchdowns by bringing in Gator running back Dameon Pierce. Thomas Booker adds some depth to the defensive line. Teagan Quitoriano will compete to back up second-year tight end Brevin Jordan with Pharaoh Brown and Antony Auclair.

Here are the draft picks the Texans will take into camps this summer:

Round 1: No. 3 Derek Stingley Jr., CB (LSU) (signed)
Round 1: No. 15 Kenyon Green, G (Texas A&M) (signed)
Round 2: No. 37 Jalen Pitre, S (Baylor) (signed)
Round 2: No. 44 John Metchie III, WR (Alabama) (signed)
Round 3: No. 75 Christian Harris, LB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 4: No. 107 Dameon Pierce, RB (Florida) (signed)
Round 5: No. 150 Thomas Booker, DT (Stanford) (signed)
Round 5: No. 170 Teagan Quitoriano, TE (Oregon State) (signed)
Round 6: No. 205 Austin Deculus, OL (LSU) (signed)

Texans Reach Agreement With Derek Stingley Jr.

The top cornerback in this past draft is officially joining the Texans. Houston has agreed to terms with Derek Stingley Jr., per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

The Texans raised some eyebrows by selecting the LSU alum third overall, making him the first defensive back to be taken off the board. A top-three draft slot wouldn’t have come as a surprise, of course, had he been able to maintain his level of play throughout all three seasons he spent with the Tigers.

Stingley burst onto the scene during his freshman season in 2019. He made 38 tackles, adding six interceptions and 15 pass breakups as a key part of the team’s run to the national title. His performance had him squarely on the first-round radar, but staying on the field became an issue from then on. The six-foot-one, 195-pounder only played 10 games between his sophomore and junior campaigns, failing to record another pick during that span.

That led many to believe he could still be worth a high Day 1 pick, but that Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner would be the first corner to hear his name called. Just before the draft, though, it came out the Texans were seriously considering Stingley at No. 3, as they had him rated above Gardner, the eventual fourth overall selection by the Jets. Risky as the pick has been labelled by some, the team has the potential to reap the rewards if Stingley can stay healthy in the NFL.

Stingley will receive a $22.385MM signing bonus, per Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). Overall his four-year rookie deal carries a total value of $34.6MM; the team will also, of course, have the fifth-year option available.

Texans Select CB Derek Stingley Jr. With No. 3 Pick

It’s been quiet in Houston surrounding the third-overall pick, and we finally have an answer on what the organization will do. The Texans have selected LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the No. 3 pick. 

The LSU cornerback had long been considered one of the top-two cornerback prospects available, along with Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner. Recent reports indicated that Stingley was trending as high as the top-three with the Lions or Texans rumored to be interested in him at No. 2 or 3 overall. That ended up being the case, as Houston scooped him up after pass rushers were selected with the first two selections.

After a stellar freshman season, Stingley was easily viewed as the best cornerback that would be available by the 2022 Draft. But, after a subpar 2020 season and only appearing in three games last year, combined with another stellar season from Gardner, NFL teams have allowed a bit of room for Gardner to challenge as the best corner on the board.

Stingley underwent season-ending foot surgery in October, limiting him to three games as a junior. He finished his collegiate career with six interceptions, all coming during his freshman campaign.

The Texans needed offensive line help and going past that now is good news for the Panthers and other teams anxiously awaiting the opportunity to draft help up front. It had been rumored that the Texans would move up to take Stingley if he wasn’t their first pick, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. They didn’t take any chances and took him at No. 3.

Giants Eyeing Sauce Gardner, Ikem Ekwonu?

While the Giants are still open to trading out of one of their top-10 draft slots, plans on how the team will proceed if they stay at those spots might be emerging.

Connected to tackles at No. 5 throughout the pre-draft process, the Giants are believed to have cornerback Ahmad Gardner as their most universally approved prospect, the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy tweets. The Giants were connected to “Sauce” back in March and hosted the Cincinnati cover man on a visit.

As for their tackle preference, Charles Cross was the blocker most closely connected to the team in the days leading up to the draft. But Dunleavy adds Ikem Ekwonu is believed to be the team’s highest-ranked tackle — ahead of Cross and Evan Neal, respectively. The NFL smokescreen window obviously remains open, but both Gardner and Ekwonu would make sense for the Giants.

Ekwonu, who has played guard as well, has been connected to the Jaguars with the No. 1 pick. But Jacksonville is still viewed as likelier to take a defensive lineman to start the draft. The Jags and Lions going D-line would open the door to the Jets (No. 4) and Giants having corners and top-tier tackles on the board. The Giants had sizable presences at Ekwonu, Cross and Neal’s pro days.

The Texans have been the top five’s least discussed team, possessing a bevy of needs. Houston has, however, been connected to corners in the days leading up to the draft. Derek Stingley Jr. should be considered the favorite to go third, Dunleavy adds (on Twitter). This is not the first Texans-Stingley connection to surface. Since Lovie Smith‘s comments about his team’s need at corner, the Texans have been tied to the LSU and Cincinnati standouts. Stingley going third would likely leave the Jets with their pick of Gardner, the draft’s top tackles and this class’ third- and fourth-best D-linemen — generally believed to be Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jermaine Johnson.

The Giants have a need at right tackle — where Ekwonu, Cross or Neal would presumably step in as a Day 1 starter — but also are preparing to move James Bradberry‘s $21MM cap number off their books. Big Blue’s top corner for the past two seasons, Bradberry has no ties to the current regime and is going into an expensive contract year. Gardner would be an immediate replacement on a much cheaper deal. The Jets, who have also been linked to Garnder, could spoil any Giants plans here. But the NFC’s New York franchise might be OK with multiple prospects at 5.

Texans Still Eyeing Trade-Up From No. 13

Texans general manager Nick Caserio has made it clear he is more than willing to make a trade involving the team’s second first-round pick in tonight’s draft. Even if they keep the other – the third overall selection – the team is eyeing a move back into the top 10, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Texans Willing To Trade One First-Round Pick]

As Schefter details, the Texans are “trying to position themselves” so that a move for a specific target in the latter half of the top 10 becomes feasible. That would open up the possibility of a deal with either of the New York teams (the Jets are slated to pick fourth and 10th, while the Giants own Nos. 5 and 7). The latter in particular has been named as one of multiple trade-down candidates, depending on how the top of the board shakes out.

However, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer speculates that Seattle is actually the key team in this situation. He reports (on Twitter) that some in the league believe Caserio plans to take an offensive tackle third overall, then use the trade to move back in front of the Seahawks to select cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Houston has long been linked to Evan Neal at No. 3, and was recently said to have Stingley rated higher than presumed top corner Ahmad Gardner.

While it remains to be seen which team the Texans would be partnering with to pull off such a move – as well as the price they are willing to pay to do so – this is certainly a situation worth monitoring. A pair of top 10 prospects could go a long way to Houston accelerating the rebuild as they try to move forward from the Deshaun Watson era.

NFC Draft Notes: Giants, Lions, Falcons, Vikings, Eagles

We took a look at draft notes out of the AFC earlier this evening. In anticipation of Thursday’s draft, let’s pivot to the NFC:

  • The Giants are currently sitting with picks No. 5 and No. 7, but there’s a chance they move back in the first round. If they end up finding a trade partner, Dan Duggan of The Athletic believes the organization could be targeting Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum later in the first round. Staying in New York, Peter King of Football Morning in America writes that the Giants could select Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 7. Some recent reports indicated the Giants front office was down on the prospect, but King says the team has “done a ton of work on him since his Pro Day.” The Giants are also “extremely interested” in Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II and Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com.
  • Speaking of Thibodeaux, there’s a chance the edge jumps all the way to No. 2. While King has the Lions selecting Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson with the second-overall pick, the reporter cautions that Detroit is “smitten” with the Oregon defender and could shake up the draft board by selecting him earlier than expected. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Todd McShay doesn’t see Thibodeaux falling pass the Falcons at No. 8.
  • Wrapping up King’s notes, the reporter writes that the Falcons like Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. King has Atlanta trading up to select the signal-caller at No. 32, but there’s a chance Corral ends up falling to them anyway at their current selection at No. 43. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much buzz connecting the Falcons to a quarterback at No. 8, according to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe.
  • The Vikings are eyeing cornerbacks at No. 12, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The reporter hints that a team outside of the top-12 could look to jump the Vikings in pursuit of one of the draft’s top cornerbacks.
  • McShay had a handful of notable tidbits about some NFC squads. The Seahawks are taking a “hard look” at Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis at No. 9, and the front office is also intrigued by LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.. Meanwhile, the Eagles “preference” at No. 15 could be Alabama wideout Jameson Williams, and there’s little chance the receiver falls past the Saints at No. 16. Albert Breer of SI.com shares a similar sentiment about the Eagles, with sources telling him that the Eagles are seeking a pass rusher.
  • Continuing in Philly, the Eagles may not end up even selecting at No. 15. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggests (on Twitter) that the Eagles could be a candidate to move up in the first round. The reporter suggests that the front office could be targeting a cornerback or edge rusher.

CB Notes: Bills, Bradberry, Giants, Gardner, Texans, Jets, Jaguars, Browns, Ward

Losing Levi Wallace in free agency, the Bills have a cornerback need a week away from the draft. The two-time defending AFC East champions will be linked to corners early, but they are still looking into the veteran market. Brandon Beane confirmed the team has spoken with free agent corners, via The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia (on Twitter). While Stephon Gilmore is now off the board, several other accomplished vets remain available. The player Gilmore is set to replace in Indianapolis, Xavier Rhodes, is a free agent. So is Joe Haden, whom the Steelers appear to have replaced with Wallace. Buffalo has Taron Johnson as its slot cornerback, so boundary players would seemingly be the focus on the veteran front. Jackrabbit Jenkins‘ Titans contract expired, and Trae Waynes and Kyle Fuller loom as potential bounce-back candidates. Richard Sherman is set to turn 34 this year, but he has a career’s worth of high-end zone production.

Here is the latest from the cornerback scene:

  • Lovie Smith indicated his team needs cornerback help, and it might even come at No. 3 overall. Several teams believe Ahmad Gardner could be the Texans‘ choice at 3, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler tweets. Houston has also done extensive work on LSU’s Derek Stingley. Given where they are in the rebuilding process, the Texans make sense as a true best-player-available team. That would seemingly point to a tackle choice — be it Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu — but corner buzz has followed this team for a bit now.
  • Stingley played just 10 games between the 2020 and ’21 seasons, seeing injuries slow his momentum after a dominant freshman season. But the LSU product is creeping into the top-10 picture, with ESPN.com’s Matt Miller noting Stingley and Gardner are looking likely to each be top-10 selections (Twitter link). The 6-foot defender, per one evaluator who spoke to NBC Sports’ Peter King, has “the best feet of any corner I’ve ever seen.” Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent ESPN.com mock draft has Gardner going fourth to the Jets and Stingley going 12th to the Vikings. The Jaguars and Jets hosted Stingley on visits this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • The Washington Huskies could see two corners go in the first round. With Trent McDuffie positioning himself as the draft’s third-best corner, Miller adds a few teams do not expect Kyler Gordon to reach Day 2 of the draft (Twitter link). ESPN ranks Gordon 31st overall, though Todd McShay has him going 42nd in he and Kiper’s latest mock. The 5-foot-11 defender played four seasons at Washington, but only two (2019 and ’21) involved more than three games.
  • New Giants GM Joe Schoen said a scenario exists where the Giants retain James Bradberry, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter). Entering the final year of his contract, Bradberry has long expected to be dealt. The Giants have discussed their No. 1 corner with teams, and while they have said an extension for the Dave Gettleman-era signee is possible, Bradberry’s $21.9MM cap number sits second on Big Blue’s payroll. The Giants ($6MM-plus in cap space) would save more than $11MM by designating Bradberry as a post-June 1 cut, if no team offers a draft pick to take on the veteran cover man’s $13.4MM base salary.
  • Denzel Ward‘s five-year, $100.5MM Browns extension includes $44.5MM fully guaranteed, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. That figure also leads all corners. In addition to his signing bonus, the Browns fully guaranteed Ward’s 2022 and ’23 base salaries ($1MM, $4MM, respectively). Ward’s 2024 base ($15.3MM) shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. That same structure is present for 2025, with that base salary ($13.5MM) already being guaranteed for injury. It becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2024 league year.