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Derek Stingley texans

Derek Stingley Jr. Primed For Sophomore Season Growth

  • Justin Melo
  • June 22, 2023
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Houston Texans sophomore cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is a candidate to enjoy a breakout campaign in 2023. Stingley Jr. recently discussed his newfound confidence after a string of strong showings throughout OTAs. He appears primed to showcase progress in 2023.

“I feel like I’ve improved and I’m seeing the whole field at a faster rate,” Derek Stingley Jr. recently said. “Year one to year two, you can see the pace a little bit more. Nothing’s really unexpected. Nothing really catches you off-guard anymore.”

Stingley Jr. has spent the offseason working under the tutelage of first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans. Ryans is a defensive-minded leader with a reputation for taking ascending talents under his wing. Stingley Jr. can reach his full potential under Ryans’ direction.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Stingley Jr. experienced a difficult rookie season. Injuries limited Stingley Jr. to nine regular-season appearances as a rookie. He was placed on season-ending IR in Week 15. 

An up-and-down campaign for Stingley Jr. was made more difficult when fellow rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner was named to the All-Pro team and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Texans fans will recall that Gardner was selected by the New York Jets just one pick after Stingley Jr., but the Texans can’t dwell on the past.

Opposing quarterbacks targeted Stingley Jr. early and often last fall. He was credited with allowing 33 receptions on 49 targets despite his shortened season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos combined to throw 19 targets Stingley Jr.’s way in Weeks 1 and 2 alone. He allowed a chain-moving 12.5 yards per reception. PFF awarded the rookie cover man with a lackluster coverage grade of 49.9. Despite some obvious struggles, there were bright spots as well.

For example, Stingley Jr. wasn’t credited with allowing a touchdown reception through 309 coverage snaps. Quarterbacks saw a middling passer rating of just 84.9 when targeting Stingley Jr. in coverage. He also recorded his first career interception in an early October win over Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two of Stingley’s five pass breakups occurred in that same victory.

Stingley Jr. is a key member of an underrated Texans secondary that could take a step forward in 2023. Stingley Jr. will make up a combative group of playmakers alongside Desmond King II, Steven Nelson, and Jalen Pitre, the latter of which is another sophomore talent. All four defenders played together last year, which should provide Stingley Jr. with a sense of comfort, chemistry, and familiarity. Stingley Jr. and Pitre have a bright future in Houston’s defensive backfield.

Ryans appointed some terrific position coaches to help oversee Stingley Jr.’s development, including new defensive coordinator Matt Burke and defensive passing game coordinator Cory Undlin. Undlin previously spent time alongside Ryan and his No. 1 ranked defense in San Francisco. Stingley Jr. is in good hands.

While his rookie campaign didn’t go according to plan due to injuries, setbacks, and inconsistent play, the former LSU standout is now healthy and flourishing. Expect Stingley Jr. to showcase growth all throughout the 2023 season.

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Justin Melo