Houston Texans: Tackling Life, Social Issues, Sports with Justin Reid

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Reflecting with Houston Texans star safety Justin Reid on his first two seasons in the NFL and going in-depth of the work he has done for the Houston community.

Houston Texans starting safety Justin Reid has emerged as one of the promising young players on the defense and made a name for himself on and off the field. Reid became a starter in his first year in the league after being drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft and has remained an impactful player for the Houston Texans.

However, Reid is more than a professional athlete at the age of 23 as he has become very close to the city of Houston through his philanthropy work and been vocal of social justice issues that we face as a nation. As a supporter of his work on and off the field, I wanted to get to know Reid’s success and obstacles he has seen early in his life from a personal and professional level with the Houston Texans.

Q: I want to recap what you’ve done in your first two years in the league with the Houston Texans because fans don’t give you enough credit for how much of an impact you’ve had. It’s hard to get on the field as a rookie but you did it and played at a high level. Fans also don’t notice the gravity of the wear and tear players play through in a season. How were you able to play through hurt last year and how did it affect your style of play?

A: So the injury rate in the NFL we all know is 100 percent. Usually what happens with organizations is the teams that last longer from the playoff teams are the teams that keep their best players healthy and on the field throughout the whole season. I’m not the only one that has to deal with injuries. My particular situation having a torn labrum did pose an extra set of challenges for myself and there is definitely a learning curve with dealing with that. I had to learn how to tackle a different way. I had to learn what movements really hurt me, what movements I could do that didn’t hurt, and I also know that in some situations there wasn’t a way around it.

I’m on the field, I’m worried about what I do on the field, I have to try to make this play even if it’s going to hurt anyway, I just accepted them. It’s not easy, football never is, but especially with an injury. It is not easy playing with. I just adapted, I learned how to make most of the angles to where I can try to make contact as much as I can with my left shoulder. I learned the movements that hurt, and as the season went on I became more and more consistent with tackling after the first couple of games with the learning curve of playing football at real-life speed and figuring my way around the injury.

Coming into the league and the credit that is due. Yeah, I don’t feel like I have been getting credit for everything that I have been doing as far as on the national scale. I’m also confident that my film and my plays will speak for itself, and I’ll let all that come around. I try not to be focused on talking about it. I just try to do what I can to make the guys around me better and contribute to the team winning. I’m just hoping that people keep seeing me play and that I’ll gain some of that credit and respect that I think I deserve. And it’ll just come naturally.

Things have their way of working themselves out like that, so I’m still waiting on that. Just looking forward to really come into this season healthy and really being able to show what I can do without having to worry about the brace. I get to play more free, I get to play with more release, I don’t have to think about at the same time how I’m going to make a tackle or try to stay on the field and not get taken out of the game. I can just go and make plays. Be violent, be aggressive, and be a playmaker.

Q: You’ve played all over the field early in your career. From rushing the passer to playing as a roaming single-high free safety or to play in the box. Where do you feel most comfortable as a defender?

A: I just love the versatility of it. I love moving around the field. It’s really fun for me to play in more than one spot. Its harder for other teams to gameplan for me. They don’t know which week whether I’ll be playing free safety, strong safety, slot corner, the dime backer, or blitzing. I think that one of my strengths is my knowledge of the playbook and that I am able to fluidly transition between a couple of different positions, and makes it hard for teams to really gameplan for me. So I think that will be consistent with this season depending on what team we are playing, what their strength are that I’ll just be moved around to attack them in the best way.

Whether it’d be playing in the middle of the field, playing down in man coverage, blitzing, playing zone. I had conversions about that, that is some of the deal that I would be moved around. So I’m just ready to play everywhere week in and week out. Listening to my coaches, getting ready to contribute.

I still think I am a safety at heart, but I’m part of the new hybrid role that safeties are evolving to. Safeties are becoming more coverage players. I could have been a cornerback if I had chosen to go that route in college. I had the options to, I chose to do safety, so I think that adds to my skill set as far as being able to play make, coverage, move around, and do so many different things.

Q: There must be a lot of nuances playing at a high level despite playing with a new safety teammate every year. You’ve played with former Pro Bowlers in Tyrann Mathieu and Tashaun Gipson. What goes behind having to learn new teammates’ tendencies and how do you see yourself playing alongside Eric Murray? You have yet to repeat with a starting teammate. How much of a challenge is that?

A: There is always a challenge with a new guy coming into the team each season. It would be nice to have some consistency but that’s not how the NFL works all the time. Guys get traded around all the time. This will be my third season with another companion on the starting side of the safety field and really it’s all about communication.

I try to do everything that I can do to help every guy that comes in. Me and Tyrann started off at the same point in our first year, we just came in and communicated all the time to get on the same page. The biggest challenge this season with Eric Murray is kind of the same thing except now we don’t have the OTA window to be able to meet each other in person. We’ll kind of have to be getting to know each other on the fly as far as meeting in person aside from Zoom meetings whenever we finally do get to report back to the facility. There is a little bit of a challenge there, but it is my third time doing it so it’s not anything I’m not used to.

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