All offseason, Justin Reid lobbied for a chance to kick in an NFL game. In training camp, the Texans fourth-year defensive back practiced extra points and field goal attempts after practice. On Saturday night, his wish came true.
In Houston's third and final preseason game Saturday night, Reid performed kickoff duties three times. During warmups, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn tweaked a muscle and was ruled out. A former soccer player and kicker in high school, and also the emergency kicker at Stanford and with the Texans, Reid never had the opportunity to put his leg on display in the NFL.
"He has been all training camp, ever since I've been here, even during OTAs he talked about wanting to kick," Head Coach David Culley said. "I don't know what it is, if it's something from Stanford or whatever it was, but he has this thing about wanting to kick."
Before kickoff, Reid got the news that he would not only be kicking on the opening drive, but throughout the game.
"I've been looking forward to this moment for so long, I can't tell you how excited I was when the coaches said, 'You're up this game,'" Reid said. "I was like, 'Really I get one?' They said, 'No, you're up the whole game.' I was excited to be out there. It was a dream come true."
On the first play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Reid boomed a kick 64 yards. In the third quarter, Reid's second kickoff was a 61-yarder to the Tampa Bay four-yard line. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor knew about Reid's soccer background, but was impressed nonetheless with his teammate's debut as kicker.
"I was actually surprised, I know it's crazy, we had this story -- we had this talk walking to practice, might have been two weeks ago, he was telling me how he played soccer growing up," Taylor said. "To know that background, that was dope to see him go out there and do that. He never did it in an NFL obviously, or at least I don't know that but he did a great job."
Reid's third and final kickoff attempt of 48 yards sailed out of bounds early in the fourth quarter. That was the one kick he wanted back, Reid said.
"I was too excited," Reid said. "I bet the guys would I beat them down the field and I was running before he kicked it. Always going to stay on the fundamentals and keep your head down when you make contact with the ball."
The Texans did not have a field goal attempt in their 23-16 loss to the Buccaneers, but Culley revealed that Reid would have been asked to kick if they were within his range.
"Had we got in a situation later in the ballgame, if we got to the plus 24-yard line, he was going to kick a field goal," Culley said. "That was his distance. He was going to kick a field goal and he was excited about that. Unfortunately, we didn't get down there when we needed to get down there late in the game."
Reid said he had his helmet strapped on and was ready every time the offense got within his range, though maybe he'll save the regular season field goals for Fairbairn.
"I won't actually be doing that in the regular season," Reid said. "We have a much better kicker but it was a fun experience for me to go out and do it."
Fairbairn is expected to be healthy for the Texans regular season opener at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, September 12. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CDT on CBS and SportsRadio 610. For tickets, click here.