Reader Ready To Step-In If Wilfork Retires

Before the playoffs started, Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he was thinking about retiring whenever the Texans season ended. That happened Saturday night with a 34-16 loss to the New England Patriots, and afterwards, the 13-year pro took it a step further.

“I think I have played my last NFL football game,” Wilfork told reporters from the visitor’s locker room at Gillette Stadium. “I will take the time and do my due diligence and sit back and see if I really want to retire. We’ll see. I don’t know how long that will take.”

If Wilfork does decide to hang up his cleats with his five Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl rings, the Texans have a worthy replacement on the roster in D.J. Reader, who said Monday after cleaning out his NRG Stadium locker that he was happy with how his rookie season turned out.

“It’s been a blessing to be able to get through a full season healthy and come out the other side,” he said. “It didn’t look bright at the beginning, and then it ended up coming out and working out, so it’s been fun.”

Reader played in all 18 games this season, finishing with 25 tackles and two sacks, the second coming in the Texans 27-13 Wild Card win over the Oakland Raiders. He says he’s ready to step-up if Wilfork decides to step-down.

“It’s gonna be a job I have to step into,” he said. “(If) I play my hardest then I’ll be able to do it. (Wilfork) has taught me well, (defensive line coach Anthony Weaver) has taught me well, so I’m excited about it.”

The 22-year old Reader was drafted in the fifth round with the 166th overall pick out of Clemson and he believes that playing behind Wilfork will be a major boost to him moving forward.

“He’s been the best in the league for 13 years,” he said. “You watch that everyday in practice, everyday at work, everyday at meetings it becomes a second nature and you get to pick up on little things that he does and things that he tells me.”

His head coach sounded quite confident in him on Monday.

“D.J. Reader is one of the better young defensive lineman I’ve been around in the NFL,” Bill O’Brien said. “He’s tough, he’s built low to the ground, he’s hard to move, he’s got good pass rush skills, and there’s a lot to improve on, and that’s what we’ve all spoken to him about the last part of the season, ‘Hey, look, this is good, think about how much better it could be.”

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