Reed and Harris Called to the Forefront
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans are at an important stretch to their season, and have to overcome some adversity, injuries, opponents and themselves. The Texans are sitting at 3-2 and tied on top of the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, and being where they are now is almost what should be expected.
With all of the injuries the Texans are going to lean on their other two top draft picks from the 2nd round, Brooks Reed (OLB) and Brandon Harris (CB). This will give the Texans their three top draft picks from the 2011 NFL Draft some increased playing time for the remainder of the season.
Brandon Harris was activated against the New Orleans Saints, and his playing time has increased on defense besides his contributions on special teams. With Sherrick McManis dealing with a hamstring issue and Brice McCain knocked out of the Oakland Raiders game, Harris was thrown into the fire. He was lining up on the slot receivers and even came on a blitz to cause an errant Jason Campbell pass. Harris has also been showing some toughness on the coverage teams and is showing he can handle what happens on Sunday in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see if the Texans are going to increase his playing time in the secondary with Brice McCain expected to play on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Also, with the battle between Jason Allen and Kareem Jackson for the other starting corner position, Harris got some valuable and productive time against the Raiders that should earn him some more looks defensively.
Brooks Reed will be turned to replace the injured Mario Williams, and there couldn't be any bigger shoes to fill than Williams. Reed was brought in to provide some depth, but like every other outside linebacker on the team he is learning a new position. He has been worked in slowly through the season, but got plenty of snaps after Williams went out with his injury. Reed got into the flow of the game quickly and provided some good football from the outside and even put some hits on Jason Campbell.
Reed has been taking baby steps since the beginning of the season and getting a handful of snaps on defense. He has been making his mark on the special teams unit, but look for his special teams playing go down to keep him fresh for defense. He will not get the same attention Williams did for opposing offenses, Reed will have to command respect and take advantage of his one on one situations.
The Texans have been slowly bringing their rookies into playing time, with the exception of J.J. Watt. Reed and Harris have been fortunate enough to learn for 4 weeks of the regular season, and now it is time for them to contribute and prove their worth. Reed will definitely be a starter on Sunday against the Ravens, and as for Harris his time will be dictated by the guys in front of him. Harris' athleticism is intriguing and should be used out on the field in the secondary.
There is not better time for the Texans' rookies to prove they were picked for the right reasons. There haven't been much expectations for the pair of rookies, but they will be rising going into the Ravens game.