How will Texans adjust when Reed returns?

How will Texans adjust when Reed returns?
August 25, 2013, 8:00 am
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Texans think Reed will fit in when it's time

(USA Today Images)

Shiloh Keo is not Ed Reed. That’s not much of a revelation.

But aside from the obvious – Reed is a nine-time Pro Bowler and Keo has never started an NFL game – the two have very different styles of play. In fact, Reed’s style of play is different from most safeties.

And because of an offseason hip surgery, the Texans’ secondary hasn’t yet gotten a chance to play or practice with Reed, who remains on the Active/PUP, heading into the final preseason game next week, as Keo remains the starter.

“Obviously, he’s missed a lot of time,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “You can’t make up the time but I just think once he gets a couple of days in practice with us and out there actually running around, I think he’ll be right back intact with everybody else.”

But nobody really knows what to expect from Reed when he’s back, even if he is completely healthy.

The Texans have repeatedly said one of the main reasons for signing Reed was his unique ball-hawk ability. Reed plays the game like a centerfielder and has 61 career interceptions and nine defensive touchdowns to show for it.

“Physically, just out there on the field, I know he’s a great player, but from our standpoint, we haven’t been able to take any snaps with him,” cornerback Kareem Jackson said. “We’re not really sure what we’re going to miss or … I don’t know how to say it. He hasn’t been out there, so we’re not sure what he’s going to do.

“We know what type of player he is, but how he’s going to fit in our defense, I can’t really say that we really miss it right now because we have guys that are there and that are doing a great job. Once we get him back and once he’s healthy, we’re definitely going to love him to be there with us.”

For the previous four seasons, Glover Quin had been the Texans’ starter and he started next to Danieal Manning for the past two seasons. In 2012, with the absence of Brian Cushing in the middle, Quin was asked to play close to the line a lot and he did.

In 2012, Quin had 85 tackles to lead the team and had at least 80 tackles in each of his last three seasons. With the Ravens in 2012, Reed had just 58 tackles. And, he has only had one season with 80 tackles in his career and that came as a rookie in 2002.

With those numbers in mind, it stands to reason that the Texans won’t ask Reed to fill the role Quin had on the team. Instead, he’ll be himself; the ball-hawking centerfielder who can change the game with one big interception and a return.

Which is fine. That’s what the Texans obviously wanted. But they’re not getting the chance to learn his tendencies or how the defense will run once Reed is in and Keo is out.

“Physically, the way that (Reed) plays, it will change some things, our mentality as a defense,” Jackson said. “As far as call-wise, with Coach Wade (Phillips), I don’t think it will change.”

Joseph said he didn’t think the defense would chance too much either. He claimed the defense is already built for playmakers and that Reed would be able to fit in. What Joseph said would be different about the defense is Reed’s unique play-making ability, the instincts he brings to the table. Joseph talked about the “intangibles” Reed will bring to the defense.

Reed has been around the team some even without practicing. He’s been in the meeting room and around the facility and has made his presence felt in that way. The team hasn’t been able to say whether or not he’ll be ready for the opener and the last time Reed spoke to the local media – on July 30 – he wasn’t sure either. Even if he is ready to go, it will be without much practice time with his teammates.

And in the meantime, even though he doesn’t have one career start and even though they’re very different players, Keo is the starter, filling in for Reed, the future Hall of Famer and one of the best safeties in the history of the game.

“You know,” Keo said. “I try not to think about that.”