In an offseason where the Texans lost key leaders in Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson in the secondary, many fans’ attention are starting to shift towards second-year safety Justin Reid. A third-round pick out of Stanford, Reid managed to exceed expectations during his first year in the NFL with his ability to make plays and exhibit a seamless transition to the starting safety position when former safety Kareem Jackson was moved back to cornerback out of necessity. According to general manager Brian Gaine, it was nearly instant that Reid displayed the traits necessary to make his mark in the NFL.
“He was a very mature guy,” Gaine said of Reid. “Right away, he was on special teams, he was basically the quarterback of the punt team... It’s not easy to do that as a rookie. All of the calls that have to take place and things like that, he did that right away.”
Whether it be playing multiple positions or contributing on special teams, the Texans have always preached versatility out of their players. Reid’s ability to show out on the special teams unit right off the bat said a lot of his character and ability. In the meantime, Reid was able to learn what it takes to be an NFL starter in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s defense behind Mathieu and Jackson.
“We had Kareem [Jackson] there and [Mathieu] there and then [Reid] was learning,” said Gaine. “As he worked at it and learned and kept learning, kept improving on the practice field, stayed healthy, took care of his body, he was able to play a lot of football for us and made some big plays for us.”
In 2018, Reid was able to produce 88 total tackles, ten pass deflections, and three interceptions, one that he managed to return 101 yards for a touchdown in Houston’s game versus the Washington Redskins. Although many thought of Reid as the third safety in the defensive rotation, he was primarily a starter once Kareem Jackson was forced to move back to corner less than halfway through the season due to injuries at the position. With that experience in Reid’s pocket, Brian Gaine speaks confidently of Reid’s ability to make a big jump heading into the 2019 season.
“I think he’s another guy that you’ll see a lot of improvement from year one to year two because of how much he played and how used to the game he is now and be able to go out there and be more comfortable right away,” said Gaine.
A common theme in the organization is that players are expected to make their biggest jump from year one to year two due to their acclimation to the speed and complexity of the NFL. Although Reid won’t be alone in patrolling the defensive backfield in 2019, expect there to be plenty of eyes on his progress once OTAs roll around on May 20th.