HOUSTON -- Texans standout safety Justin Reid is expected to miss Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers due to a sprained knee that has sidelined him for the past two practices, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
The Texans are expected to replace Reid in the starting lineup with Lonnie Johnson working in tandem with Eric Murray.
Reid is officially listed as questionable along with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee).
The Texans officially scratched receiver Danny Amendola, who's out for up to three weeks with a strained hamstring, according to a league source. Starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell is out with a concussion. Quarterback Deshaun Watson (non-injury reasons-personal matter) is also out for the third week in a row.
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Reid's injury isn't regarded as a long-term setback. The short week and potentially aggravating the injury was too much to overcome.
Reid is off to a fast start, intercepting two passes with one forced fumble in the first two games.
The former third-round draft pick, in the last year of his rookie contract, is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu, the New England Patriots’ J.C. Jackson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Edwards and the Dallas Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs.
Reid has three of Houston's five total takeaways.
“What I notice about Justin is that he played hard every down," Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said Tuesday. "I think one of the first calls I made to him, I was watching video of him just running a guy down, playing hard. That's a good starting spot.
"What Justin has not been able to do an awful lot in the past that I saw were splash plays, big plays. If you're talking about one of the better DBs in the league, it's about them being able to go and get the ball.
"And that interception he had the other day, we were in a typical zone, one of our signature Cover 2 defense, safety is reading the quarterback, excellent break. He's capable of those type of plays.
"If you just look at skill set, he's got great speed. He'll hit you, he's a smart player. He's got a lot going for him. But maybe my favorite play that he made Sunday against the Browns was our safeties also have to be able to tackle. To take the ball away, those are based on a big hit. He can do a lot of things well.”
Reid left the game Sunday with a knee injury, returned and then was held out as a precautionary measure. He was limited in practice Monday.
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His ability to create takeaways and not get burned has earned praise from the coaching staff.
“Well I’ll tell you what, it’s been really really good,” Texans coach David Culley said. “And I told him, I say this to him all the time in practice, ‘Look, I don’t mind you being a ball hawk, as long as you are being a ball hawk in the framework of the defense,’ which means it’s OK to go get that ball as long as no balls are going over the top of you.
“And right now, he hasn’t had any balls go over the top of him, but people are starting to see that he can get a nosey in there sometimes when he sees things, because he has good football instincts. But he’s done a good job of playing what our scheme has allowed us to play and he’s been able to make some plays whether is getting interceptions or creating fumbles. That’s the kind of football player he is.”
Reid posted a video on social media of his interception against the Browns following a 31-21 road loss.
It was accompanied by a caption: ‘We win if we stay healthy. These ‘experts’ gone stop sleeping on us.’
Reid’s contributions have helped the Texans to a 1-1 start. There's hope the defense continues to improve after being one of the worst units in the league last year.
“I think that Justin is a fiery, fiery person,” Texans running back Phillip Lindsay said. “He wants to win. He understands what we have in this team and he understands what it takes to win.”
These are the moments Reid lives for. In a pivotal contract year, he’s back after thumb surgery ended last season prematurely and playing some of his best ball.
Reid, due $2.433 million this year, could be in line for a blockbuster payday for Houston or as a free agent.
The highest paid safeties in terms of average per year are the Denver Broncos’ Justin Simmons ($15.25 million), the Arizona Cardinals’ Budda Baker ($14.75 million), the Chicago Bears’ Eddie Jackson ($14.6 million), the Tennessee Titans’ Kevin Byard ($14.1 million), the Washington Football Team’s Landon Collins ($14 million), Mathieu ($14 million), the New England Patriots’ Devin McCourty ($11.5 million) and the Browns’ John Johnson ($11.25 million).
Is it tough to concentrate with so much at stake? For Reid, the answer is very simple.
“Honestly, no,” Reid said during training camp. “For me, it's always been very clear. Like I'm focused on this right now. I'm going to compartmentalize everything else and I kind of tackle things as they come. When it comes to football and want to put my best ball on the field, that's always been kind of No. 1 in my head.
“Like everyone around me, I have a great support team around me and they understand how I operate and how important this is to me. They know when I'm locked into this mode I'm locked in and once I step off the field then I have time to go do everything else.”
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