The Houston Texans have an ample amount of talent on both sides of their defensive line. There’s no need to list them all off.
But you will be forgiven if you aren’t completely familiar with D.J. Reader. In 2016, his rookie season, Reader racked up 22 tackles and a sack in the regular season. Most people might remember him as the mysterious defensive tackle that flew by Raiders offensive tackle Menelik Watson before leveling quarterback Connor Cook in the Wild Card round.
Reader isn’t exactly a household name, but Texans defensive line coach Anthony Weaver expects the defensive tackle to take the next step in 2017.
“We have very high expectations of D.J.,” said Weaver, via the Houston Chronicle. “I think you saw just a glimpse of what he’s capable of a year ago. He’s another guy that since he’s been back, you can tell he’s, and I think I speak for the whole defense, they all have a little bit of a chip [on their shoulders].
“Were we happy with what we did a year ago? Sure. But we all know what the ultimate goal is and I think everybody that walks into this building day-in and day-out, they come with the mindset of like, ‘How are we going to get over this hurdle? How are we going to get to where we want to be?’ And D.J., I think, he epitomizes that every time he walks in this building.”
With Vince Wilfork deciding to hang up the cleats after the 2016 season, Reader now faces the task of filling a void in the middle of Houston’s intimidating front seven. The good news is Reader’s transition should be a smooth one.
He displayed impressive versatility in the opportunities presented to him, as he was able to record a sack in both the traditional one-technique, as well is the much wider five-technique. But he probably won’t be asked to shuffle as often next season.
Houston’s defensive line also includes Christian Covington, who has become a very solid player in a short period of time, along with Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. We’re all aware of what Clowney and Watt bring to the table, but Reader and Covington will be decisive to helping the Texans remain a Top 12 team at stopping the run.
Considering the talent he is surrounded by, Reader doesn’t need to become the next Aaron Donald for Houston to have a fearsome defense, he just needs to do his job.