Justin Reid has been a cornerstone of the Houston Texans' defense since his arrival in 2018.
However, some years have been better than others, and he'll be the first to admit it. In 2020 he missed the season's last three games with a hand injury, after recording 83 tackles, two sacks, and four passes defended.
"Last year wasn't a great year. It just wasn't," Reid said on Monday.
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Thankfully, the Reid of old seems to be back. And ironically, this uptick in his fortunes might be partially down to a real low point of last year.
"One of the only positives about my season ending early last year is I got to really focus on my recovery getting back healthy," explained Reid. "Now it's honestly the best thing that I could have done going into this season because physically I feel great. I'm bigger, I'm faster, I'm stronger. I feel very fluid and just loose on the field and I just feel like I'm free out there."
Entering the season healthy with the same starter as last year alongside him at safety for the first time in his Texans career can only be beneficial, especially as they get used to coordinator Lovie Smith's new scheme.
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A scheme that Reid seems to be loving.
"It's so much more aggressive," Reid said. "He lets us play free on the back end. He's very intent about us wanting to make plays and going and making plays, playing with instincts, playing with security; at the same time but when we see an opportunity to make a play and go strip the ball out he harps on us going to do that."
"He's in my ear literally every day," Reid said. "First thing he said to me in practice today was, "Yesterday was yesterday. Now do it again today," you know what I mean. So, he preaches consistency, he preaches getting takeaways, getting turnovers and that's just the type of defense that we want to run."
Seeing more aggression from a Texans defense will come as music to the ears of fans who were pleading for change after a forgettable 2020 campaign.
Throw in the likes of Reid having the freedom to go and make big plays when they see fit, and not only could this be a big year for the former Stanford safety, but a step in the right direction for the Texans.
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