O'HARA: Glasses off, intensity on for DT Caraun Reid

Posted May 16, 2014

Defensive tackle Caraun Reid wears glasses off the field, but playing without them, or contact lenses, puts him in a better frame of mind to compete.

Caraun Reid can read the handwriting on the wall, which isn’t a surprise considering he has an Ivy League education. Reid is about to graduate from Princeton with a degree in sociology and a certificate in African-American studies.

But when he lines up at defensive tackle, Reid is visually challenged by choice. He wears glasses off the field, but playing without them, or contact lenses, puts him in a better frame of mind to compete.

“It makes me more aggressive when I don’t have clear vision,” Reid said Friday after the first practice of the Lions’ three-day mini-camp for rookies. “I just go with that.”

Reid, who said he is near-sighted, removed the black horn rims that made him look rather scholarly – of course – and scrunched up his eyes to show what it’s like when his vision is impaired.

“I’ve got to squint like this,” he said, demonstrating. “I’m not happy because I can’t really see that well.”

Having something less than 20-20 vision did not have a negative impact on Reid’s career at Princeton, as his stats indicate.

“I can see numbers and other colors,” he said. “I’m not bad bad. But yeah, It’s different. It doesn’t affect my play at all. I can see the signals. I can see everything on the field. I’m not squinting to find out what the call is. I’m pretty much self-aware about what’s going on.”

My quick take on Reid, and some issues he faces:

Depth chart: The primary rotation from last year is set with the return of starters Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and top reserves C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen.

Rookie status, competition: Reid was the only defensive tackle drafted by the Lions this year, which should help his prospects of making the roster. Three other tackles with NFL experience are competing for roster spots – Vaughn Martin, Corvey Irvin and Jimmy Sadler-McQueen.

Reid also got some playing time at defensive end at Princeton, and the Lions have moved their linemen around in the past. Jason Jones has moved inside to tackle from end, and Suh has been moved out to end occasionally. Fluellen is the ultimate utility man, rotating at end and tackle.

Reid bio bits: He was a playmaker on the interior of Princeton’s defensive line, with 20 sacks in his last three seasons (2011-13) and seven blocked kicks. He’s the fourth player in Princeton history to be all-Ivy League in football three times.

The Lions obviously saw in Reid what they liked to draft him in the fifth round. At 6-2, 305 pounds and good quickness, Reid was a disruptive force in the Ivy League. His athletic ability is evident in rookie camp.

“Obviously, he’s a quality student -- has been all of his life,” Coach Jim Caldwell said. “But he’s a guy with some talent, too. I mean, he’s quick, he’s got strength and power. We saw a lot of it just in terms of preparation for the draft, but even out here today, you can certainly see some of that.”

Caldwell quickly added that mini-camp practice, without pads, is just the start of the process.

The late Alex Karras, one of the Lions’ all-time great defensive linemen, needed glasses off the field but did not wear them when he played. Karras said years ago that he once tried wearing glasses in a game but was so distracted by looking around that he had a poor performance.

Princeton alums are closely knit, and Reid said he already has met Bill Ford, the Lions’ vice-chairman and a Princeton grad.

Reid said he also met Martha Ford, the principal owner of the franchise, at Friday’s practice.

“The Princeton family is a great family,” Reid said. “I met him yesterday and his whole family has reached out to me. I met Mrs. Ford today out on the practice field.”