With Ed Reed missing OTAs because of a hip injury, rookie safety D.J. Swearinger has been getting valuable reps with the Texans' first-team defense.
Swearinger, a second-round draft pick from South Carolina, is working mostly with the second unit in base defense and with the first unit in dime packages along with safeties Danieal Manning and Shiloh Keo.
"I think there's been an acceleration with D.J. with the fact that Ed is not here," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday. "So it's been a quick push.
"He's basically a starter out here from the standpoint of what we do dime-wise right now and working with Keo. (He's) working with a lot of starter reps. He's going to be called on very quickly, and he's sure acting like he can do it. We'll just keep our fingers crossed, keep going."
What has Kubiak seen from Swearinger through two weeks of OTAs?
"Confidence," Kubiak said. "He's got a ton of confidence. He just walks out here like he belongs, and he does. He's got a ton of ability. He's a smart player. When the ball is close to him, he's going to make the play. That's the difference between a good player and a great player in this league is being in the right spot and making big plays when you get there. He's got a chance to make those plays."
Defensive backs coach Vance Joseph also has been impressed with Swearinger, who the Texans expect to be their third safety as a rookie.
"Obviously, he's a guy who's got great talent, great instincts, got some ball skills to make plays on the ball," Joseph said. "He's also a very, very smart guy. He's picked the system up very quickly, and he's playing well for a rookie. You don't know until you coach guys how smart they are, but his football IQ's very high."
Swearinger said the biggest adjustment from college has been the level of detail required on every snap. But it's obvious to anyone who has seen him practice that Swearinger isn't lacking for confidence, despite his ongoing transition to the NFL.
"That's just something I've always had since I was a child, confidence in everything I do," Swearinger said. "I do everything with love, and I have confidence in everything that I do. Whatever it is, you know I've got confidence in it.
"My opportunity has been great. I've been able to show what I can do. I'm taking every advantage I can... I always think I've got something to prove, whether I'm on top or on the bottom, so I always play with an edge. I'm glad this happened like this."