Now entering his third season, Brooks Reed says getting to the quarterback is a big focus this year. With 8.5 career sacks, 5.5 of which were during playoff games, he believes watching extra game film, working on his trade after practice, and experience is the key to a successful season in 2013.
"I feel like I have improved as a player and I feel like (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) has too," Reed said. "I am just really excited to get everyone out there on the field again, me with (ILB) Brian (Cushing) again so it will be fun.
The Texans open up their preseason at Minnesota on Friday. Though playing time will be limited for the starters, Reed is looking forward to facing players other than his teammates and tackling.
"Yeah, I'm a go for Friday. I don't know how many plays, but I'm a go," Reed said when asked about his preseason playing status. "It will only be about 15 plays, a couple of series' worth. It will be fun to go out there and finally be able to tackle again and just experience a live game for a change up. It will be a good starting game for us and to kick start us back into the season."
Reed returned to practice Tuesday following a collision with tight end Owen Daniels on Sunday. The outside linebacker suffered a sore right knee that kept him out of practice on Monday. Back to full participation on Tuesday, Reed was in good spirits.
"I'm feeling a lot better," he said following practice Tuesday. "It was just a contusion and something that a day's rest could take care of."
Reed has high hopes for the rookie linebackers, especially Willie Jefferson. Jefferson (6-5, 233), a rookie out of Sam Houston State, has impressed in camp and has the potential to start on Friday, should Mercilus not play due to a tweaked hamstring.
"I think everyone knows he will get at least two sacks. I told him, 'You better get at least five sacks in preseason and maybe a pick, blocked punt,'" Reed joked. "He's kind of established himself around here already and he's handled himself. He's gotten a lot of reps with the ones with me and Whit (OLB Whitney Mercilus) down some of the day so he is getting a lot of great experience and he has stepped up. He has shown that he has a lot of great athleticism. It will be fun to watch him."
Amassing sack totals seems to be a requirement for playing on the Texans defense which tied its franchise record set in 2011 of season sack totals (44). However, Reed hopes to gain more than just stats from the first preseason game at Minnesota.
"It will be a good first test to see how well we communicate on the field, on the road. It should be pretty loud and that a big thing that you can't really replicate out here on the practice field," Reed said of Friday's matchup against the Vikings. "Communicating with a lot of fans yelling, especially on defense, that's essential to getting everyone on the same page so it will be a good test for us and a great experience for the new guys that are playing to get that done."