HOUSTON – Texans rookie starting defensive end Will Anderson Jr. returned to practice and participated on a limited basis after being out one day with a knee injury. It’s a positive sign for his availability for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and his outlook is positive.
Anderson got hit on his knee Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sustaining a bruise. Drafted third overall, the former Alabama standout has recorded 30 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for losses and nine quarterback hits with 13 pressures.
Veteran wide receiver Robert Woods returned to practice on a limited basis from a foot injury and is working toward playing Sunday. Woods missed the past two games. He has caught 22 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown on 43 targets.
Starting linebacker Blake Cashman returned to practice and participated on a limited basis after missing one practice with a knee injury.
Several players didn’t practice, including starting running back Dameon Pierce (ankle, expected to miss game with Devin Singletary starting again), wide receiver Nico Collins (calf, growing concern he could miss this game), kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn (out two to three weeks with strained quadriceps, replaced by Matt Ammendola), safety Jimmie Ward (strained hamstring, expected to miss Bengals game), cornerback Steven Nelson (neck, back, expected to miss this game), tight end Brevin Jordan (foot, plantar fasciitis, expected to miss this game), linebacker Henry To’oTo’o (concussion, expected to miss this game) and fullback Andrew Beck (ankle, elbow, shoulder, trending toward missing game).
Linebacker Jake Hansen (hamstring and hand) didn’t practice. Hansen broke his hand and underwent surgery and will be out this week, per a league source.
Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil returned to practice on a limited basis after one rest day as the team manages his lingering knee injury.
Starting cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis when he was designated for return from injured reserve after injuring his hamstring seven weeks ago. He participated fully Thursday, though, and took multiple snaps with the first-team defense, per league sources.
Stingley isn’t a lock to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and star quarterback Joe Burrow as his status is still being determined, according to league sources, with significant weight being given to the time he’s missed and the wisdom of a ramp-up week this week before returning to play and being activated for a game the following week against the Arizona Cardinals. If Stingley is activated, it’s being contemplated having him on a pitch count, per sources.
Stingley Jr’s 21-day practice window to be activated began Wednesday along with offensive tackle Charlie Heck who has dealt with sciatica from a back injury that affected his foot, per sources.
“We’re happy to have Stingley back out practicing,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said. “We’ll see how his week goes and how he progresses. We’ll see, whenever he has the opportunity to get back.”
The Texans have an extensive injury report with multiple players missing practice Wednesday.
“It doesn’t stop our process,” Ryans said. “We go through the same process, and things happen. That’s life. Things don’t go your way all the time, so I continue to smile through it, and we’re going to have our best guys out there. Whoever is available, we’re going to have our best guys out there and we’re going to play the Texan brand of football.”
The following players were limited Wednesday: Collins (calf), defensive end Jonathan Greenard, linebacker Henry To’To’To (concussion), offensive tackle George Fant (knee), offensive guard Tytus Howard (knee), defensive end Myjai Sanders (knee) and Stingley.
The Texans signed linebacker Cory Littleton off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad to their active roster one week after releasing him. They released wide receiver Jared Wayne from the practice squad and signed wide receiver Alex Bachman.
A former LSU consensus All-American drafted third overall last year, Stingley started the first two games of the season and has recorded nine tackles. He was effective in single coverage against Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the season opener.
For the season, Stingley has allowed four catches for 37 yards and no scores on six targets. He had made significant strides during the offseason and preseason, including adding muscle to his upper body.
At 6-foot and a chiseled 190 pounds, Stingley possesses every tool to become a true lockdown corner. He just needs to become more durable.
Stingley Jr. didn’t allow a touchdown pass as a rookie, displaying the athleticism and coverage skills the Texans envisioned when they selected him instead of cornerback Sauce Gardner, who was named All-Pro as a rookie with the New York Jets after being drafted fourth overall.
Stingley Jr. embraces the pressure of playing an unforgiving position where every step is on display while isolated in single coverage. As a top corner, Stingley Jr. is tasked with matching wits and footwork with some of the best athletes in the game.
Stingley Jr. made a full recovery from a Lisfranc foot injury last year after being limited him to three games as a junior before declaring early for the draft. He had previously dealt with an ankle injury and an illness as a sophomore while excelling and being named first-team All-Southeastern Conference for the second time. Stingley Jr. intercepted 27 passes during his high school career. He was a five-star recruit and ranked first overall by Rivals and a finalist for the National Gatorade Player of the Year.
Stingley Jr. got better and better as the season went on, including a key interception of Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the end zone during a road victory.
Targeted 54 times overall, Stingley allowed 34 completions for 409 yards as a rookie.
Stingley Jr. injured his leg against the New York Giants last November. His hamstring injury was more severe than the Texans acknowledged initially for competitive reasons. Before he got hurt, Stingley recorded one interception, one sack, five pass breakups, no touchdowns, an opposing passer rating of 78.4 and a 63-percent completion percentage against him. He played 97 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps before getting hurt.
Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com