RENTON, WA - Anxious to get back out on the gridiron following his breakout campaign, Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed missed the entire preseason after injuring his hip in practice earlier this month.
"I would have liked to [play in the preseason]," Reed told reporters on Tuesday. "But I had some things going on. I had a couple things I was dealing with. I'm blessed, I'm healthy right now. My biggest thing is I gotta stay healthy, so just gotta keep doing more. I take care of my body, so I just gotta keep doing more and just keep doing the little things and I'll stay healthy, hopefully.
"I had a hip strain. I practiced and, yeah, just did like a regular read step and it pulled on me a little bit. I tried to go out there another play and it was super aggravated, so I knew that I strained it. MRI confirmed that, so that's what it was. Was dealing with that and yeah, it took me out of training camp."
Reed says he feels "good" now after returning to practice last week. He's expected to be ready for Week 1 when the Seahawks travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts on September 12. But when he steps out on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, his role may differ from the one he established at the end of 2020.
Claimed off waivers from the 49ers last August, Reed kicked off his stint in Seattle by spending most of his time at nickel and left cornerback. But as the season went along and the since-departed Shaquill Griffin returned from injury, Reed slid over to the right side and solidified a starting job in an impressive 341-snap sample from Week 13 onward.
Heading into his second season with the Seahawks, it's long been anticipated he would retain his role at right corner. With Griffin leaving for Jacksonville in free agency, the team turned to free agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon, fourth-round draft pick Tre Brown and veterans Damarious Randall and Pierre Desir to compete on the left side.
The quartet underwhelmed in the preseason. As a result, the Seahawks moved on from Desir in mid August, released Randall before rosters were cut down from 80 players to 53 on Tuesday afternoon and traded a 2022 sixth-round draft pick to the Jaguars for cornerback Sidney Jones.
When Reed arrived at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for the first of three practices this week, he found himself thrown into the job several others had vied for this summer—starting on the left side, opposite fourth-year man Tre Flowers.
"Today, they moved me to left corner, so Tre's at right," Reed revealed. "That's what I was told today. For me, you know, I just work here. So if they want me to play nickel, they want me to play corner on the right, corner on the left, I'mma do it. That's just what it is."
Though the switch wasn't necessarily expected, Reed has no concerns about his ability to adapt if this is Seattle's long-term plan at the position.
"From what I could tell, that's probably what I'm doing right now," Reed said. "So unless something else changes, I'm adaptable. But I feel like that's what I'm doing.
"I'm a football player. I've been read stepping on the right side 'cause I was on the right side. But I was just on the left today and it felt natural. So it doesn't really matter to me, honestly."
Reed is grateful for the position he's in with the Seahawks, who allowed him to take the time he needed to recover from his injury. They bought into his half-season audition last year, and made their confidence in his ability to repeat that performance obvious with how they approached his rehab.
"It's completely different," Reed responded when asked how much his career has changed over the last year. "If I was on the [49ers] still or if it was my rookie year or something, I probably would have had to thug it out, just try to play on my strain. Obviously, I could have made it worse but I probably would have had to take that gamble. But being in this situation, obviously was smart. Same as the staff, we were all on the same page, you know, getting me to the season healthy. ... That was the smart thing to do. It was a strain, so it was no point of going out there to prove myself when I'm dealing with an injury. So we just kept it smart."
Ready to get going, Reed is challenging himself to put forth a fully healthy season in 2021. At the end of it, free agency awaits for the 24-year old corner.
But that's a bridge he plans to cross when he comes to it
"I talked to my agent about it," Reed explained. "Really, bro? I just really want to play this season just to prove to myself I can play a whole season. I think that's the biggest thing for me. Not really thinking about the money or anything. Just tryna just enjoy the process, really. You know, I just feel with all these knick-knack little injuries, God is keeping me humble. And honestly, injuries—crazy as it sounds—it makes me more focused. So, like, I'm really locked in right now just on the season, looking forward to the season. And yeah, I'm not really thinking about my contract. Obviously, you know, that's in the back of my mind, but I'm not really thinking about it. I'm more so just focused on the process and the season."