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Lovie Smith: Derek Stingley Jr. expected to play Week 1

Houston Texans fans won't have to wait much longer for Derek Stingley Jr.'s NFL debut. Head Coach Lovie Smith expects the Texans No. 3 overall pick play in the regular season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 11.

"Yes, I do, Week 1," Smith said. "Whenever a player is coming off of a major injury, there's ramp up here, that's what it's for. Ease him into it. You see him, healthy, running around doing a few plays. He's on schedule. But that's how we will treat all of our players coming off major injuries."

At the Texans first training camp practice on Friday, Stingley, wearing No. 24, was taking part in position group drills with the defensive backs. He even returned kicks with a group of players during the special teams' portion of practice. It was the first time the rookie participated in any on-field drills Houston drafted him.

Although Stingley ran full speed at his April LSU Pro Day, Smith and the Texans did not want to rush the two-time All-American and All-SEC defender back from the Lisfranc surgery that sidelined him for all but three games last season.

"We got plenty of time," Smith said. "Stingley will eventually get there. You can look at the video, see that he's an elite athlete. All the skills you're looking for in a cornerback but his intellect, his brain, love where he is."

The Texans will hold their next training camp practice on Saturday 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.

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