The Ravens got a reprieve when the Houston Texans placed Mario Williams on injured reserve after the outside linebacker tore a pectoral muscle in the Sunday's 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Williams – who got his fifth sack of the season on the play that he sustained his injury – was replaced by Brooks Reed, a rookie who finished with four tackles and two quarterback hits against the Raiders. But Reed is no Williams, which is music to the ears of Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
"He's definitely an impact player for them," McKinnie said of Williams. "He's been a star since he came in, a first-round draft pick. So he's definitely one of the leaders on that defense. They may lose a little edge and they may not. It may hype up the other person coming in to play so that they don't miss a beat. So you never know how this person might be motivated."
Texans coach Gary Kubiak lamented ending Williams' season just as he was beginning to grow more accustomed to his conversion from defensive end.
"I feel so bad for Mario because he's been such a heck of a player and what we're doing – to me – is really going to blossom his career from now on," Kubiak said during his weekly news conference Monday. "I think he'd really taken to the position he's playing. He was improving every day at practice, improving in every game and really enjoying. I've never seen him so upbeat about what was going on and then to lose him on a freak play, it doesn't look like much at all. I'm disappointed for Mario. Obviously it's tough on the team. We're missing a great player."
Reed, Houston's second-round pick in April, is regarded as a talented pass rusher who should blossom in the Texans' 3-4 defensive alignment under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
"Brooks did come in, played 50-something plays and played special teams and played very well," Kubiak said. "We played good defense all day [Sunday]. We really did. They gave us a great opportunity to win the game and Brooks was a big part of that. So now, it's a great opportunity for him in his young career to step up and be a starter. That's why we drafted him, very capable of doing it and he'll get his opportunity here."
McKinnie said he has been researching Reed.