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Could Justin Reid be Defensive Rookie of the Year?

As soon as the ball left Baker Mayfield’s hand, Justin Reid had just one thought:

Interception.

When Browns receiver Antonio Callaway caught it for a 71-yard gain, Reid quickly shifted gears. Still hoping to force a turnover, Reid tried instead to strip the ball out and he did.

"I saw him catch it and at that point just put my head down and digged. You always want to show great effort, run to the ball and at that point it was just trying to make something happen. I didn’t want him to score, so just make a play on the ball, see if it would come out. Good thing for us it did.”

Reid’s forced fumble stopped the Browns scoring drive at the Houston 6-yard line. The rookie safety that fell to the Texans in the third round of the NFL Draft has far exceeded expectations.

“You know, Justin Reid going down and making that play,” DeAndre Hopkins said. “That's a play that a lot of people won't talk about, but to me that's one of the plays of the game, how hard he hustled. A lot of guys would have gave up on that play he stuck it in got the ball out.”

Reid has been a turnover machine for the Texans, with a team-high three interceptions this year, including one returned 101 yards for a touchdown in Week 11 at Washington. In addition to Sunday’s forced fumble (the first of his NFL career), Reid has also recorded one fumble recovery through 12 games with eight starts this year.

How good of a campaign is that? Good enough that the NFL's three-time Defensive Player of the Year is impressed.

“He's been having a hell of a year,” J.J. Watt said. “He's been working hard to improve every week. He's been making huge plays for our team all year long, whether it's a 101-yard touchdown or the play of today. I personally think he should be up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. I don't see why he wouldn't be. He's been playing great.”

The rookie out of Stanford credits the coaching staff for his preparation. He diligently studies the film and makes his corrections. Every week, he looks more like a savvy veteran. Reid has recorded three games with multiple passes defensed and now has nine through this season. In Sunday’s 29-13 win over Cleveland, he also became the first Texans player to record at least four total tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble since Watt did so in Week 17 of the 2015 season vs. Jacksonville.

But Reid isn’t done yet. With four games remaining in the regular season and the Texans trying to secure a playoff berth, Reid knows his biggest games are still ahead of him.

“I’m happy to do what I can to help the team win and at the same time, it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of league,” Reid said. “So next week, I’m going to have to keep doing things and making plays and helping the team win. Not get complacent with it because at that point, things keep going downhill.”

The (9-3) Texans will next host the (6-6) Indianapolis Colts in Week 14. Kickoff is set for Sunday at 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

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