The Texans will practice in pads Tuesday, and for Justin Reid, it'll be like "the first day of school".
The fourth-year safety is one of the team leaders, and through the first five training camp practices of 2021, he's been a bright spot on the field. Routinely around the ball, and on occasion in possession of it via interception, Reid's putting into action what defensive coordinator Lovie Smith has emphasized since arriving: get takeaways.
"It's so much more aggressive," Reid said of the new defense. "He lets us play free on the back end. He's very intense about us wanting to make plays, going and making plays, playing with instincts, playing with security at the same time. But when we see an opportunity to go make a play, go strip the ball out, he harps on us about going to do that. He's in my ear literally every day."
Reid's 2020 was ended by injury after 13 games. But that early finish helped Reid recuperate a little sooner than expected, and now he said he feels bigger, faster and stronger.
"I feel very fluid and just loose on the field," Reid said. "I feel like I'm free out there. I get to play ball and go make plays."
As a rookie in 2018, Reid picked off three passes, recovered a pair of fumbles and forced another. One of his picks went 101 yards the other way for a touchdown in the November win at Washington. Getting back around the ball is a personal goal in 2021 for Reid, and head coach David Culley is impressed with what the young veteran has done early in camp.
"He flies around out there," Culley said. "He sees everything. He's back there for a reason. He is a guy that is going to make plays. He is a guy that is going to be around the ball and it's good to see."
Linebacker Christian Kirksey, who hasn't been around Reid long, was quick to notice the safety's brains.
"You can tell that he knows where to be," Kirksey said. "He tunes into his keys. He's very intelligent. He's a ball hawk. We play the game of chess, and you can just see that he's smart overall."
Reid and company will practice in full pads, in front of fans, on Tuesday morning at the Houston Methodist Training Center.