The Houston Texans are in the midst of many camp battles, one of which is a spot for kick returners. On Wednesday, Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross said he is pleased with the number of options he has so far in camp.
"Yeah, that's an open competition," Ross said. "Excited to see who grabs that by the time we get towards Week 1. Ball security is the name of the game, impact afterwards. Let's see who can do it."
Through the first five days of training camp, the special teams drills have rotated through a number of players fielding kicks. Drafted with the No. 3 overall selection, Derek Stingley Jr. has been the most notable addition of players fielding punts. Stingley, who returned punts for LSU during his 2019 and 2020 campaigns, has progressed well early in camp, according to Ross.
"Great, so obviously phenomenal athlete his whole life," Ross said. "Refined, yeah, we've got to get it to that point, where efficiency, catching it right, getting vertical, those types of things that you see the great ones have done, start to train those mechanics, those habits for a young man. We'll see how high his ceiling can go."
By the end of last season, Tremon Smith and Desmond King II had assumed kickoff return duties in their first season with the Texans. Smith, King as well as other new players such as WR Conner Wedington.
"It's going real good," Smith said. "And me coming out early and staying after the catch and just keep on stacking the days just so when the game days come, it's just second nature to me for my team."
Smith earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his two kick returns for 121 yards (60.5 avg.) and a 98-yard touchdown at Jacksonville in Week 15. King, in addition to starting 12 games at defensive back, also returned seven punts for 154 yards and one kickoff for 27 yards. The Texans extended Smith last December and re-signed King in March.
The Texans will hold their next Texans Camp practice Friday at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Houston will kick off the 2022 preseason at home against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. CT. Browse tickets here.