After a foot injury limited him to three games last season at LSU, Derek Stingley Jr. is expected to be ready for Week 1 of his rookie campaign in the NFL.
Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith told reporters Friday he expects the 21-year-old cornerback to be on the field when the regular season starts.
"Whenever a player is coming out with a major injury, this ramp-up period, that's what it's for. We're going to ease him into it," Smith said. "He's healthy, seeing him run around. We had him doing a few plays. ... So he's on schedule."
The Texans didn't seem to have any concerns about Stingley's health when they made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Stingley underwent a surgical procedure in September for a Lisfranc injury. He told reporters in March he wouldn't work out at the scouting combine to allow his foot more time to recover.
"My rehab is ahead of schedule right now. ... I'm on pace to do what I have to do at pro day," he said.
At LSU's pro day April 6, Stingley showed no lingering issues from the surgery. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds and a 38.5-inch vertical jump, according to numbers recorded by the school (h/t ESPN's Mike Triplett).
The Texans held Stingley out of mandatory minicamp in June, which Smith said was to give the team a chance to "evaluate" and see where he was in his rehab and recovery.
Expectations will be high for Stingley when he gets on the field. The Louisiana native made an immediate impact for LSU as a freshman in 2019. He was a consensus All-American after recording 21 pass breakups and six interceptions in 15 games to help the Tigers win the national title.
Stingley made the All-SEC First Team in each of his first two years at LSU.
The Texans open the preseason Aug. 13, though it's unclear if Stingley will play in that game. They begin the regular season at home Sept. 11 against the Indianapolis Colts.