Safety Eric Reid is settling into his secondary role with the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera knew they needed a safety after placing Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve when he suffered a second concussion in just a matter of weeks. Eric Reid, a former first-round pick and Pro Bowl (2013) nominee, was available but closely tied to Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem as a way to raise awareness for social injustice.
He had also filed a collusion lawsuit against the NFL and its owners as he remained unsigned following last season and an extended free agent period. Other teams had suffered injuries at safety, some even employed less talented players, but no one was looking to sign Reid – except for Carolina.
New owner David Tepper wasn’t listed in the lawsuit as he became an owner after it was filed. Hurney and Rivera made a football decision but with the pending lawsuit it’s almost guaranteed that Tepper also approved of the signing before Reid put pen to paper and it was the right move.
Reid continues to kneel during the anthem but his play and recent improvements on the field are also being noticed. His pregame spat with Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, resulting from how the two are choosing to deal with the current issues, wasn’t pretty but his play following was impressive.
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The Panthers new safety finished second on the team with nine tackles and caught what appeared to be a game ending interception before having it overturned after replay review. He’s also received high praise from his defensive coordinator Eric Washington and coach Rivera.
To the untrained eye it may appear the back end of the Panthers secondary is weak and it would be a fair argument but let’s remember that Reid, despite being a former first-round selection, missed all of training camp and the preseason. He wasn’t with any team and hadn’t played in the NFL since New Years Eve. He missed the first three games of 2018 and after being signed was immediately assigned a starting position.
Each game he has improved his tackle total with three, five and nine, respectively, while learning to play alongside veteran safety Mike Adams and a young set of cornerbacks. No question Reid, and the rest of the secondary, benefit from the play of the front seven but this group is improving.