Jalen Pitre's ability to stand out has helped him blend in with the starting defense.
The rookie defensive back is turning heads from his elder teammates through the first couple weeks of training camp, and that ability to make an impact is just what Head Coach Lovie Smith likes.
"What we should notice about Jalen is he's just blending in now," Smith said Friday. "Of course, he's one of our starting safeties. We aren't giving out any starting spots, but he's been working with the ones."
Most rookies don't come in and start immediately. But Pitre, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 at Baylor, is different. Tight End Brevin Jordan explained why Pitre's stood out early in camp.
"That boy is a dog," Jordan said. "I'm excited for him. He's instinctual, he plays fast and he's already out there making plays. I think the dude has probably had three interceptions from OTAs until now. He's balling."
The Texans jumped from an NFL-worst nine takeaways in 2020 to 25 last season. That was tied for the 10th-best mark in the league. Defensive Back Desmond King, who forced a fumble and picked off three passes last year, emphasized how Pitre's ball-hawking skills are needed for this defense to get even better in the takeaways category in 2022.
"What I see out here is what we need in our back end, secondary," King said. "That's what we preach: we want to get the ball and we want to get interceptions, turnovers, force fumbles, and he's been out there doing that."
Linebacker Garret Wallow played his college ball at TCU, also in the Big 12. What he's seen of Pitre so far with the Texans, aligns with everything he saw of Pitre before they entered the league.
"Pitre, he's a ballplayer," Wallow said. "He just has a knack for the football and I've known that from playing him when he was at Baylor. He was a great player there, too.
Saturday night at NRG Stadium, Pitre and the Texans will host the Saints in the preseason opener. It'll be a first glance of game action for the rookie, and Smith is looking forward to it.
"He's intelligent, smart, and everything we're looking for in a safety, he has," Smith said. "Can't wait for him to actually play his first game."
The Texans resume practice on Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.