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Texans Defensive Depth Chart: Pair Of Rookies Earn Starting Nod

Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley Jr. already have proven they're starting material for the Texans' defense

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans are preparing to face the New Orleans Saints in the first preseason game of the year on Saturday. And while most veterans will likely be holding a clipboard and shooting the breeze, the latest depth chart reveal could decide which players are set to start Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. 

Houston revealed its first official depth chart since the start of training camp. Here's how the defense and special teams look:

Defensive End: Jonathan Greenard, Rasheem Green, Demone Harris, Adedayo Odeleye (R)

Defensive Tackle: Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock, Thomas Booker (R)

Defensive Tackle: Roy Lopez, Michael Dwumfour, Kurt Hinish (R), Damion Daniels (R)

Defensive End: Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Derek Rivers

Outside Linebacker: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Garret Wallow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tae Davis

Middle Linebacker: Christian Kirksey, Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman

Outside Linebacker: Kevin Pierre-Louis, Christin Harris (R), Jake Hansen (R)

Cornerback: Derek Stingley Jr. (R), Desmond King, Isaac Yiadom, Tremon Smith 

Cornerback: Steven Nelson, Tavierre Thomas, Kendall Sheffield, Fabian Moreau 

Safety: Jalen Pitre (R), Eric Murray, Grayland Arnold  

Safety: Jonathan Owens, Terrance Brooks, M.J. Stewart, Tristin McCollum

Kicker: Ka'imi Fairbairn

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Punter: Cameron Johnston 

Long Snapper: Jon Weeks

Holder: Cameron Johnston

Punt Returner: Desmond King, Tremon Smith, Chad Beebe

Kick Returner: Tremon Smith, Desmond King, Connor Wedington 

Since the start of OTAs, both Pitre and Stingley have been highly praised for their work ethic and attention to detail in coach Lovie Smith's defense. Pitre, the No. 37 overall pick in April's draft, worked his way into the first-team unit by the end of OTAs. 

Since training camp has started, Pitre has locked down one safety spot. Earlier this month, Smith said the former Baylor All-American had earned the starting job

"He's intelligent, smart, everything we're looking for in a safety, he has," Smith said.  "Can't wait for him to actually play his first game.”

Stingley, the team's first pick, has been recovering from a Lisfranc injury suffered during his final season at LSU. Injuries have hampered the 6-foot cornerback's playing time, but his potential in coverage mirrors that of greats such as Los Angeles Rams' Jalen Ramsey and Green Bay Packers Jaire Alexander. 

When healthy, Stingley has a knack for flying to the football. During his All-American campaign in 2019, he recorded six interceptions on the way to helping the Tigers win their third national title since 2003.  

“A lot of times when guys are coming off a major injury, we may wait a little bit, but we'll decide that as much as anything for Stingley,” Smith said. “You see he’s out here practicing every day. He's right on schedule.” 

According to cornerbacks coach Dino Vasso, Stingley still could suit up Saturday for a series or two just get acclimated to the NRG Stadium turf. 


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