From the Coach's Eyes: D.J. Reader Is Now a Three Down Player for the Houston Texans

Patrick D. Starr

Entering a contract season, Houston Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader continues to be the linchpin in the middle of the defense. Reader has grown from a two-down player to an every-down player for the Texans defense. 

Able to stay on the field in passing situations, Reader has expanded his game from a run-stuffing defender to one that can heat the quarterback from the interior of the line. 

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel knows an improved Reader as a pass rusher only helps the defense. 

"I tell you what, he helps himself more than he helps me," Crennel said of Reader's improved pass rush ability. "All I want him to do is do his job within the scheme, and if he's able to generate pass rush pressure while doing that, that just helps the whole defensive unit. If he produces enough pressure, then they might put two on him, and when they put two on him that means somebody else is generally one on one. So, that's kind of the deal. I don't have to do anything special, he just has to keep doing what he's doing."

This season alone, Reader has set a career-high in sacks with 2.5 and well on his way to eclipsing personal best in total tackles, quarterback hits, and tackles for loss.

Reader's growth as a player is evident, but what he provides in eating up lineman to free up others does not go unnoticed inside the building. 

Linebacker coach Bobby King understands Reader's importance to his linebacker making plays.

"I think defenses are built from (D.J.) Reader and all of those big guys in there," King said of Reader's play. "I think they're built stopping the run through the middle of your defense. Those guys are huge along with Coach Weave's (Anthony Weaver) guys also when they're stopping the run and getting pressure on the passer, and that kind of thing."

Since being drafted in 2016, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has helped develop Reader over the years. His only defensive line coach since he has arrived in the NFL, Weaver is happy that Reader is finally getting his due as a player for the Texans. 

Weaver credits Reader's work ethic and ability to his rise in play over the years. 

"It's truly a testament to his work ethic," Weaver explained of Reader. "He's put the time in, whether that's off the field, working on his body, eating right. Then on the field, you've seen the results. I'm so proud of D.J. and the progress he's made throughout. He's reaping the benefits of it now."

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