Houston Texans: Who Starts at Safety If Ed Reed Can't?

By Mike Kerns
Troy Taormina – USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest debates between Houston Texans fans right now is if free agent acquisition Ed Reed will really be ready to go by Week 1 of the NFL regular season. Star wide receiver Andre Johnson told local media that Reed would be ready to go by then and Reed himself even commented that if Johnson said it, it must be true.

Regardless, the reviews on Reed from camp have been mixed. Most of the locals say he looks fine in practice while some of the national reporters haven’t been as kind. I haven’t seen Reed in person yet, so I’m not the best judge of things here.

People that I trust implicitly that have seen him in camp have told me he will be ready, but I’ve stood my ground, just as I have since his need for surgery was first announced, that I won’t believe it until I see it.

While Reed did have his hip surgery back in early May, a four-month turn around for this procedure is quite aggressive at his position. Is it impossible? Of course not. Reed has a reputation as a guy that is going to play through the pain. But I think the Texans coaching staff would rather have him on the field in January as opposed to September, so they’re not going to have him active unless he is really 100 percent.

This brings up the bigger question of who will be starting opposite Danieal Manning in Week 1 if Reed can’t go?

The most common answer to this question is rookie, and second-round pick, D.J. Swearinger. He is gaining a lot of attention in camp, though, probably more for his attitude and sound bites, but the fact remains that he is still a rookie. By taking him so early in the draft, the team has intentions of him seeing time on the field in 2013, but on Week 1? That can be scary. Almost as scary as what is being reported to actually be the case.

I’ve never really been a supporter of Shiloh Keo doing anything on this team other than special teams. He doesn’t have the speed or coverage ability to do anything else on the field. But reports out of camp are that he is taking the first team reps while Reed watches from the sideline.

Before anyone jumps on me about getting down on Keo, I just don’t think the guy is an NFL-caliber safety, and I think most Texans fans would agree. However, those in camp are saying that not only is he playing with the starters, but that he looks much improved. But, honestly, who doesn’t get that said about them in training camp?

I was on board with the Reed signing when it happened because I thought the team needed a change in attitude on the defensive side of the ball. Bringing in maybe the greatest free safety in the history of the game made a lot of sense, even at 34 years of age. But the closer and closer we get to the regular season with Reed still wearing warm ups and holding a clipboard, the more worried I am that this is a redux of the Ahman Green situation. But, thankfully, for much less money.

Let us all hope I’m wrong on that one. No one wants to see Keo on the field as the starting safety in the season opener.


Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” his page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also subscribe to his Texans podcast on iTunes.

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