Hurricane Reed aiming to take Ravens by storm

Another ex-Miami star looks to bolster defense

April 22, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

When the Ravens began laying the foundation for their defense in 1996, they took a chance with the 26th pick of the first round.

They drafted a player from Miami who was fiery and aggressive yet really wasn't all that big or exceptionally fast. But Ray Lewis, the 2001 Super Bowl MVP, turned out a little better than people thought.

Six years later, the Ravens are again rebuilding their defense and are banking on that same formula, this time with Miami free safety Ed Reed. The 24th pick in the NFL draft, Reed visited the Ravens' Owings Mills complex yesterday and was already talking with club officials about bringing another Super Bowl trophy to town.

In the Ravens' eyes, that attitude is what set Reed apart from the other players available. He may not have overwhelming size or speed, but the Ravens can count on Reed to be the passionate, playmaking leader of their secondary.

"He indeed was the heart and soul of that Miami defense," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's the guy they leaned on. He was the guy who talked to the team before they went out on the field. He has that kind of Ray Lewis-type energy."

Reed was the field general of a Hurricanes unit that led the nation in scoring defense (9.4 points a game), shutouts (three) and turnovers forced (45). The Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year, he finished his career with 21 interceptions and 54 pass deflections, both school records.

"He brings excitement to us," Ravens secondary coach Donnie Henderson said. "If you've ever seen him play, there's a lot of plays that have been made."

But Reed's contributions to Miami's championship season had more dimensions than any one statistic.

Besides delivering rousing halftime speeches at every game, he is known to lead by example. During Miami's grudge match with Florida State, he dislocated his right shoulder while breaking up a pass but came back to pick off two passes in the second half.

His presence will be needed in the Ravens' secondary, where he will take over for future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson.

"We felt Ed would give us a lot not only as a football player but a person in the huddle," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "That's a big thing, especially with the changes around here."

So, does Reed plan to be as vocal with the Ravens?

"Whenever I learn the ropes," he said with a grin, "I will be vocal.

"I was always vocal in my first year playing at Miami. Even though I was around a bunch of leaders, I never held back. If I had something to say, I was not going to hold it in."

Rebuilding a defense isn't new to Reed.

In his first three seasons at Miami, the secondary ranked no higher than 70th in pass defense. To make the defense better, Hurricanes defensive coordinator Randy Shannon mandated 10 pushups from every player who dropped an interception in practice.

But Reed raised the stakes. After a pass brushed his fingertips in a game, he started the next practice with a set of self-imposed pushups. From that point, it was not uncommon to see defensive backs do pushups between snaps during games.

Reed feels that kind of intensity will be needed for the Ravens' defense to rebound.

"It kind of reminds of my freshman year at Miami and it was on the downside and we didn't have many players," Reed said. "We went from a bad team to winning a national championship. I feel we can do it here."

If the Ravens can do it again, Reed would likely figure to have a say in it.

"You can't make someone a leader," Reed said. "It's something that happens over time. You have to earn respect from your teammates and you have to be dependable at all times."

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