2 Texans defensive backs crack top-5 of CBS Sports top rookies list

The Houston Texans’ secondary has two players who made the top-5 of CBS Sports’ top rookies list after Week 3.

The Houston Texans may have given away another game in the fourth quarter as they took the loss 23-20 to the Chicago Bears Week 3 at Soldier Field, but their 2022 draft class had a remarkable showing.

According to Josh Edwards from CBS Sports, the Texans had two defensive backs from the 2022 draft land in the top-5 of their rookie rankings following Week 3.

The first Texans defensive back was second-round safety Jalen Pitre, who had two interceptions and a sack.

There is a lot of value in a player that always finds himself around the football and that is Pitre. He is just as likely to be making plays in the backfield as he is in coverage. He was one broken tackle away from taking his first career interception to the house.

Defensive end Jerry Hughes was similarly impressed with Pitre’s performance despite the loss.

“Oh, he was phenomenal,” Hughes said after the game. “Young guy, he’s making great plays for us. I know he wanted to get up and score, but two big picks to kind of keep our offense in scoring territory, that’s what you want as a secondary.”

The Texans also had cornerback Derek Stingley take the No. 5 slot. Although the tilt with the Bears was more of a rushing battle for Houston’s defense, Stingley was able to have some good moments to crack the top-5.

Stingley projects a lot of confidence on the field and has the makings of a lockdown NFL cornerback. There were moments he could have shown better awareness in zone coverage but the arrow is pointing up.

The Texans will need their rookies in the secondary to continue to play at a high level as Houston hosts the high-powered Los Angeles Chargers led by Justin Herbert. Kickoff is at noon Central Time on Oct. 2 at NRG Stadium.

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How Oregon Ducks performed during NFL Week 3 action

Oregon Ducks legend Kayvon Thibodeaux made his NFL debut with the New York Giants, while Justin Herbert struggled in his return from injury.

The third week of the NFL season is already in the rearview mirror, and a handful of Oregon Ducks had successful performances for their respective teams.

The biggest news was the debut of Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft by the New York Giants. Thibodeaux recorded a tackle and a pass defended in his debut, and should see his production increase as he gets settled into his new digs at the pro level.

Justin Herbert returned from his rib injury with mixed results in Week 3, while the Chargers lost badly to the Jaguars.

Oregon’s defensive backs had nice showings, with Jevon Holland, Deommodore Lenoir, and Terrance Mitchell all having huge games with Miami, San Francisco, and Tennessee respectively.

Mitchell was making his Titans debut, having been plucked from the Patriots practice squad earlier in the week.

Here is a look at how every Oregon alumni performed in NFL Week 3 action:

Texans falter to No. 31 in Touchdown Wire NFL power rankings

The Houston Texans fell to No. 31 in the latest Touchdown Wire NFL power rankings.

The Houston Texans’ tie counts as a half-win, which is why they aren’t a complete .000 when it comes to winning percentage. However, their losing streak, even of two games, is starting to take its toll in the power rankings.

According to Mark Lane from the Touchdown Wire, the Texans’ 23-20 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 3 was enough to push them back from No. 29 to No. 31 in the latest power rankings.

The Texans finally churned more than 300 yards total offense, but quarterback Davis Mills chucked two interceptions — one in the red zone, and one in the shadow of his own goal post on Houston’s presumptive game-winning drive. Houston has components that are stellar, but they have yet to be able to put it together in the fourth quarter.

Mills told reporters after the loss that dropped Houston to 0-2-1 on the year that victory is a process a team learns.

“I think winning is learned, and we’ve got to feel that as a locker room, try to play a full game and really start building some momentum,” said Mills. “I mean, we’ve still got a long season ahead of us, and we’re ready for it, we’ve just got to take it one week at a time.”

Houston better learn quickly as the Los Angeles Chargers come into NRG Stadium Oct. 2 for a noontime kickoff for Week 4. The Chargers are 1-2 in a competitive AFC West and can’t afford to take any losses, especially to a bottom-5 team like the Texans.

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Saints tied for third in NFL waiver wire claim priority

The Saints are tied for third in NFL waiver wire claim priority, making for a razor-thin silver lining after their 1-2 start:

There’s a small, thin, miniscule silver lining for the New Orleans Saints’ ugly 1-2 start. ESPN’s Field Yates shared the updated NFL waiver wire priority on Tuesday, which reflects team records after Week 3 and will be revised accordingly in the weeks ahead. And the Saints are locked in a tie for third after losing two of their first three games.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re tied with seven other teams, including conference rivals like the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and yeah, the Atlanta Falcons. If the Saints file a waiver claim for the same player as one of those other teams, a coin flip will decide the winner.

So what does this mean? Whenever a player is waived from a team’s 53-man roster, every other team will have the opportunity to claim them off the waiver wire and add them to their own 53-man lineup (which bumps another player off the roster). The Saints have already done this a few times, claiming offensive lineman Tanner Owen after he was released by the Buffalo Bills and nearly snagging linebacker Sterling Weatherford, who was claimed by the Chicago Bears. They’ve kept a close eye on the waiver wire early this season.

That’s the gist of it, but as with many things in the NFL it gets more complicated. For one thing, only players with fewer than four accrued seasons are subject to waivers (accrued seasons being years in which they played at least six regular season games), so many of the names on waivers right now and rookies and other younger players.

But wait, there’s more. That changes after the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 1, at which point all players are subject to waivers regardless of experience. The downside is any team claiming them will have to pay the remainder of their base salary, which is why wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. cleared waivers late last season. If they clear the waiver wire, players become free agents and may sign anywhere they like — often at a minimum salary while receiving offsets from the team that cut them.

So there you go. This week, the Saints will be one of the first teams to get a shot at claiming any players cut around the league. Unless one of the other seven teams they’re tied with want that player too, in which case it goes to a coin toss. Let’s hope they find a win this week and we’ll have something better to write home about soon.

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NFL fans were delighted by Dez Bryant hyping up Dallas when he showed up to Cowboys-Giants

This was the best cameo from Dez.

Any time the Giants and Cowboys (+1.5) play, it’s naturally going to have more eyeballs and more attention on it than the average game. Monday night was no different. Before New and Dallas squared off during Monday Night Football in Week 3, an old friend of the Cowboys made an appearance during pre-game festivities.

Dez Bryant, who made three Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team in eight seasons with the Cowboys, showed up in a pre-game interview while wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses. And before the broadcast cut back to the usual studio analysis, Bryant had a hilarious way to insult the Giants as he harkened back to his Cowboys days:

(Warning: NSFW reference below)

Bryant hasn’t officially called it quits on his playing career, but he seems to be having all the fun nonetheless. Never change, Dez. Never change.

Dan Campbell offers a message to Lions fans after the rough loss in Week 3

Detroit head coach Dan Campbell offers a message to Lions fans after the rough loss in Week 3

In the aftermath of a disheartening Detroit loss that brought more than a few cries of “Same Old Lions” from a lot of fans and media members (both local and national), head coach Dan Campbell offered up some words of encouragement.

During his press conference back at the team headquarters in Allen Park on Monday, Campbell was asked if he had anything to say to the long-suffering fans. Campbell played in Detroit during the Matt Millen era, so he’s acutely aware of the agony of defeat.

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Here’s what Campbell had to say,

“Yeah, listen, I get the road that everybody’s been down. Listen, I’m not sweating it. I’m not sweating it, this team’s not sweating it. We’ve got a long season. You look out throughout this League, and it happens this way every year, and I feel like what happens to you early in the season is – it really molds who you’re going to be as the season goes on and late in the season. Those ones that can endure the adversity of the season, the ups and downs and just stay in the race are the ones that have success. And that’s all we’ve got to worry about is our own – we’ve just got to – let’s clean up all the little errors.

And I told them, I said, ‘Look, failing isn’t failure unless you don’t learn from it.’ And so, that was a tough one. We were up two scores. Should have won that game, but you know what, we didn’t earn the right to win that game. Minnesota did, and we’ve got to look long and hard in the mirror to ourselves, and we’ve got to clean up these errors. And it’s not an excuse, but we are still young, and we’ve got some guys that even though they’re not old players, they haven’t played a lot of football, or they’re not young players, they haven’t played a lot of football.

So, we’ve got to learn from it, and we’ve got to move on and be better the next time it comes up, but I’m not – listen this is not time to go into panic mode. This is not the time to worry. This is time to do just what we did from Philly to Washington. Let’s just get better. Let’s just focus on the little details, so that’s what it’s about.”

Let’s focus on the second paragraph for a second. Campbell dished out a critical statement,

“Failing isn’t failure unless you don’t learn from it.”

This has been where previous regimes in Detroit have dropped the ball. The failures are painful to deal with, as Campbell well knows. But the ability to build from the failures and learn from the mistakes, implementing changes that will help prevent more losses down the road, that’s where Campbell can be a difference-maker for the Lions. It starts with the coach himself and his in-game decision-making failures.

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Lions vs Vikings: Best and Worst PFF grades from Week 3

Here are the Detroit Lions best and worst PFF performers for this Week 3 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

It is never easy losing against your division opponent, but what happened for the Detroit Lions at the end makes it hurt that much more, losing their second game against the Minnesota Vikings, 28-24.

The Lions looked to be in control, but after some heavily questionable playcalling, ill-timed injuries, and miscommunication, they felt that win slip through their fingers. It has been documented enough that Coach Dan Campbell wishes he would’ve made a different call at the end, so we don’t need to beat a dead horse while it’s down. The Lions will look to redeem themselves next week against the Seattle Seahawks in hopes they can rebound from this devastation.

Most of this week’s PFF grades fall right in line with the eye test, good and bad. So we will go ahead and highlight the best and the worst PFF performers for the Lions for Week 3 against the Vikings.

Texans coach Lovie Smith says big plays sometimes are due to players ‘not trusting the defense’

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith believes players not trusting the defense is part of the culprit for why big plays have been given up.

The Houston Texans may have given up just 363 yards total offense to the Chicago Bears, but the ground game comprised 281 of those yards.

When an offense is churning over 200 yards on the ground, typically the indication is big plays are afoot, not that an offensive coordinator is running the Wing-T offense. Chicago’s 7.0 yards per carry as a team definitely underscored the Bears were getting chunk plays with their rushing attack.

While missed tackles are generally the culprit for a run game getting to the second level and beyond, Texans coach Lovie Smith knows there is more to it than that.

“I think tackling is some of it, but there’s discipline that goes along with containing the quarterback when he’s passing,” Smith told reporters after the 23-20 loss to the Bears Sunday at Soldier Field. “There’s discipline that goes along with maintaining good gap integrity, and we didn’t do that at times.”

According to Smith, part of the defense’s problem has been players trying to do too much.

Said Smith: “Normally when you see a big play, there is a bust or somebody just not trusting the defense and assuming that they have to do somebody else’s job, too. That’s what was happening a little bit today.”

The Texans fall to 0-2-1 on the season. Houston still has time to turn things around, but will have to buy in to the defensive philosophy and assignments quickly as the 1-2 Los Angeles Chargers visit NRG Stadium for Week 4 on Oct. 2 at 12:00 p.m. Central Time.

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Texans QB Davis Mills believes execution is Houston’s problem in the fourth quarter

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills believes execution has been the problem for the offense in the fourth quarter.

The Houston Texans can’t close out games.

The Texans held a 17-point lead in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium, but the game resulted in a 20-20 tie.

In Week 2, the Texans led 9-6 heading into the final frame, but lost 16-9 to the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.

Week 3’s results were part of a theme as the Texans were tied 20-20 throughout the fourth quarter but gave the game away with quarterback Davis Mills throwing an interception to linebacker Roquan Smith that was returned to the 12-yard line, allowing the Chicago Bears to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Mills believes the Texans’ problem is “just executing.”

“I thought today we were moving the ball well,” Mills told reporters after the loss Sunday at Soldier Field. “Had a tough situation, got called for a penalty, backed us up a little bit and kind of killed the drive. So I guess shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Mills finished the afternoon completing 20 passes on 32 attempts for 245 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, a 70.4 passer rating, and took just one sack in the process.

“Really that last drive, I thought we were all confident that we were going to move the ball down the field and go down and either kick a field goal to win it or score a touchdown,” said Mills. “That defender made a good play at the line of scrimmage to tip it and they got the turnover. Tough one today.”

The Texans will have to figure out how to close out games quickly as they fall to 0-2-1 on the season. The Los Angeles Chargers head to NRG Stadium to take on Houston in Week 4 with a 12:00 p.m. Central Time kickoff on Oct. 2.

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Texans S Jalen Pitre credits coaches, teammates for breakout game against the Bears

Houston Texans safety Jalen Pitre thanks his coaches and teammates for his big day against the Chicago Bears in Week 3.

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith had been telling anyone who would listen that there was just something special about rookie safety Jalen Pitre.

From the time he was drafted until he played in his first NFL regular season game, Smith has raved about the potential of the second-round pick from Baylor.

Spectators got a glimpse of his ball awareness skills against the Indianapolis Colts, where he almost had his first interception. He was a very intricate part of stopping the run game of the Denver Broncos in Week 2. 

In Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, Pitre displayed the talents that made him the 2021 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. He recorded two interceptions off of Chicago Bears second-year quarterback Justin Fields in the Texans 23-20 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field. 

Pitre’s first NFL interception of his career came in the first quarter after the Texans had scored on a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Davis Mills to tight end Jordan Akins and cut the Bears’ lead to three points.

Fields dropped back to pass and had a significant amount of time in the pocket to find his tight end Cole Kemet cutting across the middle of the field. The ball sailed over Kmet’s head and into Pitre’s arms as he secured heading towards the ground. 

“Big shout out to my coaches,” said Pitre when asked about his game plan preparations. “They do a great job throughout the week of putting me in great spots and helping me the things I am going to see when game time comes.”

“So, I give a big shout out to them and my teammates. We put in a lot of work on first down, second down and third down. Looking at everything we need to see and come into the game prepared. I give a big shout out to the older guys in the locker room and my coaches for helping me with that.”

The 23-year-old rookie came up with another spectacular grab for his second interception of the game on third down early in the fourth quarter, with the game tied, to give his offense another possession.  

“We were in Cover-2, and I understood the weak part of the defense in the middle part of the field,” Pitre said after the game to reporters. “Kirko (Christian Kirskey) did a great job of making him put some air on the ball and that allowed me to make a play.”

With his two interceptions on the day, Pitre became one of only four rookies since 2020 to record multiple interceptions in a single game. He is the second rookie in Texans history to record two interceptions in the same game since CB Dunta Robinson did it vs. the Oakland Raiders in 2004. 

The former two-time All-Big 12 First-Team selection also added eight total tackles and a sack, making him the fourth rookie in NFL history and the first rookie in franchise history to record two interceptions and a sack in the same game.

“He was phenomenal,” said Texans defensive lineman Jerry Hughes about Pitre’s play on Sunday. “Young guy, he’s making great plays for us. I know he wanted to get up and score, but two big picks to kind of keep our offense in scoring territory, that’s what you want as a secondary.”

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