HOUSTON – Houston Texans newbie Derek Stingley Jr.. smiled as he recalled the glorious moment of joining the NFL.

It was the third goal with 10:53 remaining against Indianapolis Colts in the first week, with the Texans leading 20-3 and the rookie faced Alec Pierce.

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Pierce ran in the end zone and Stingley left him no room.

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Colts quarterback Matt Ryan maneuvered in his pocket to win extra time. Pierce cut inside and Ryan tried to pass. When the ball arrived, Stingley dived with full draw and hit the pass. The home crowd exploded.

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“It was like, ‘Oh wow, the crowd just got loud,'” Stingley told Sportzshala. “Did I do it? It was cool”.

Despite Stingley’s big game, the Colts were back in the fourth quarter. The game ended in a 20-20 draw.

But during the first three weeks of Stingley’s career, he demonstrated an ability that led the Texans to pick him third overall in April. When quarterbacks targeted Stingley, quarterbacks completed 44% of their shots, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, ranking them 23rd among quarterbacks with at least 60 shots. He also has three pass breaks and hasn’t allowed a touchdown.

And the Stingleys’ first flashes were against three receivers for 1,000 yards at Cortland Sutton of the Denver Broncos, Darnell Mooney of the Chicago Bears and Michael Pittman Jr. of the Colts.

But it’s not new for Stingley to meet receivers 1,000 yards away.

Since Stingley’s outstanding freshman year at LSU in 2019, he has faced future NFL playmakers Van Jefferson of the Los Angeles Rams, DeVonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jerry Judy of the Denver Broncos, Tee Higgins of the Bengals and CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys. .

Stingley even lined up against Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts for a few reps.

And who can forget Stingley’s daily battles against his former LSU teammates in the Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson and Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase, both of whom were named second-team All-Pros in the NFL.

This group includes six players selected in the first round, eight players with at least 800 yards in a single season, and five players with 1,000 yards in a single season.

During that 2019 season, Stingley finished with six champion interceptions to lead the SEC and earn first-team AP All-American honors.

Stingley admitted that these fights “100 percent” helped him prepare for the NFL. That explains why he thinks the adjustment wasn’t too drastic despite only playing in three of 13 LSU games in 2021 after Lisfranc’s left foot injury.

During the 2020 season, which was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Stingley missed three games (two with an ankle injury and one with illness) as LSU struggled, finishing 5–5 after winning the title in 2019.

“It’s been a minute since I [have fun] out on the field,” Stingley said. “Even when I lose, I think, ‘OK, oh yes, I remember how to play this particular thing.’ So it’s cool. It’s fun.”

The impressive part of Stingley’s work at the college was that many of these representatives represented him on the island.

“We were basically a cover team, so there wasn’t a lot of help coming his way,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda, who was LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2019, said. “He went to these big games knowing it was one on one.”

What helped him prepare for these matches was fighting teammates in practice. The “iron sharpens iron” cliché that players cite about their teammates pushing them really applies to Stingley and Chase.

The Bengals star recalls that training with Stingley was “good competition”.

“He knew about all my inclinations,” Chase said. “So it was a good job against him.”

He then added a brilliant intelligence report on Stingley.

“He’s just a versatile playmaker,” Chase said. “He can play with the ball in the air. I feel like it’s one of the best things he does… I don’t know if he’s aware of it, but his knowledge of the game is pretty high to say he was. He was so young. He knew his routes… He was definitely already well developed.

Texans coach Lovi Smith agrees, as he spent little time naming Stingley the Texans’ No. 1 cornerman.

“Derek Stingley is our only corner,” Smith said. “He will play this role for many years. I love that he plays this role. He is an outstanding player and he will be a great player when he gets through. [Nelson] as our second corner. He also does good things. We need both.”

Next, Stingley will face another pair of 1,000-yard receivers with the Los Angeles Chargers Keenan Allen (although his status is in question) and Mike Williams as the Texans (0-2-1) take on the Chargers (1-2) on Sunday (13:00 ET, CBS) at NRG Stadium.

“[The NFL is] really the same. It’s not such a big step or anything like that,” Stingley said. “Obviously the speed is a little higher, but otherwise it’s not too different.”