In his starting role, D.J. Swearinger has stepped up as a playmaker. He has also made some costly mistakes, specifically the yellow flag ones. Interim head coach Wade Phillips does not tolerate the type of penalties that Swearinger drew in Thursday night's 27-20 loss to Jacksonville.
"He's already been given that message," interim head coach Wade Phillips said. "He knows that message. If you get aggressive penalties that's one thing, but after the play, that's hurting your team and your teammates. Players have to know that."
Swearinger has received the message loud and clear.
The rookie safety racked up back-to-back penalties in the second quarter of Houston's 27-20 loss to Jacksonville. The first, a 15-yard taunting penalty, gave the Jaguars a first down after being stopped on third-and-2. That along with a five-yard defensive holding call help put the Jaguars into position for a 40-yard field goal to give them a 17-7 lead heading into halftime.
One player who knows about the consequences of a penalty after the play is Antonio Smith. After removing the helmet of Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and swinging it at him on August 17, Smith was suspended without pay for the final two preseason games and the first regular season game at San Diego.
He wasted no time in telling Swearinger what he needed to do next, talking to him as they headed into the locker room at the half.
"You've done that," Smith said. "Now you've got to make up for it. Now you got to go back out here, get this out (of) your mind and cover a Pro Bowl tight end (Marcedes Lewis). Yeah, you messed up, but your brothers are still looking towards you to make plays to win this game so we can't focus on the past."
Several other teammates also talked to Swearinger about his actions, according to Smith. While the Texans racked up 14 penalties for a record-high 177 yards on Thursday night, Swearinger's were the ones that could have been avoided.
"You finally learn after some point that you're hurting the team and not just getting back at somebody else," Phillips said.