HOUSTON -- At first Houston Texans safety Ed Reed gave the stock answer when asked about not starting Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts -- by his recollection it was the first time since 1999 that he was a healthy non-starter in a football game.
At first, Reed simply said he knew the plan going into the game and was OK with it.
What he meant depends on your definition of "OK."
"I’m human," Reed said. "I have trial and tribulations like anybody else. Did I accept it well? No, I didn’t because I look at the tape as well. I’m grading, not just myself, but us a whole. At the same time, like I said, I understand this game. I understand where I’m at. I understand communication with my coach and what he’s trying to accomplish, what we’re trying to accomplish. At the end of the day, that’s for the betterment of the team.
"I also know that I didn’t have the reps to show that I can still do what I do even if I’m on the field. I see the blogs, the stuff that is being written and all of that, 'Ed is old. He’s not doing this. He’s only had one pass defended.' I had no pass defended at the time until last week. Let’s look at the tape. I’ll look at the tape with anybody who wants to look at it with me. Played six games, missed three-and-a-half-four tackles, mental error here and there, nothing major. But they haven’t thrown my way, not anywhere close. I think the ball has come close to me twice. Am I not doing my job or am I not being tested?"
It's not the first time Reed has mentioned his belief that he hasn't been tested by quarterbacks. The future Hall of Famer, who was signed after a heavy courtship and fanfare by the Texans, is being used in the Texans' dime defense. Shiloh Keo started last week in Reed's place at free safety. Keo played 16 more snaps than Reed did.
There really hasn't been a pattern of diminishing playing time for Reed yet.
Against the Colts he played in 52 percent of the Texans' defensive snaps. Against the Kansas City Chiefs before the bye week it was 79 percent. Prior to that he played in 81 percent of snaps against the St. Louis Rams, 45 percent against the San Francisco 49ers, 97 percent against the Seattle Seahawks and 73 percent against the Baltimore Ravens in his first game in a Texans uniform.
But it does appear he's become the Texans' third safety.
"Whether the sixth man or the starter or not, it’s just like a lot of other positions, it depends on what the offense comes out in in the first series or so," defensive coordinator and interim head coach Wade Phillips said. "Sometimes they come out in four-wide and so-and-so isn’t in there and you say, ‘he’s not a starter,’ and vice versa. It’s really dictated by our packages and what we do as to who’s actually playing the first play of the game."
Reed is clearly conflicted by this. He said he understood. He said he was all for whatever was for the good of the team. He also said he didn't think his play had dropped off.
"At the end of the day it’s a team sport, I’m the ultimate team player," Reed said. "If that’s what we need to do to win, so long as we win I honestly don’t care."
The Texans have lost their past six games.