Ravens' Reed is a bit off-key in camp debut

9-day holdout just ended, rookie safety gets ribbing, No. 3 spot on depth chart

`Hopefully, I can get back on top'

Mental, physical condition get a workout on `rough' first day in team training

August 06, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ed Reed's belated entrance into training camp yesterday started with a couple of songs and ended on a sour note.

After missing the first week of camp, the rookie free safety had to go through the initiation ritual of singing before a team meeting, belting a tune from the movie, The Five Heartbeats and another from Eric B. & Rakim.

But greater humiliation came near the end of his first practice: Reed got beat deep by receiver Brandon Stokley on a 43-yard scoring pass.

"You would have got that if you had been here last week!" Ravens coach Brian Billick shouted at him.

Reed was confused on the play because secondary coach Donnie Henderson was trying to line him up just as the ball was being snapped.

"That particular play was on me," Henderson said. "Now, if it happens again, it's on him."

The 24th pick overall, Reed ended a nine-day holdout by signing a five-year, $6.2 million contract over the weekend.

Now, the former University of Miami playmaker has to pay his dues.

Once a starter in all the off-season camps, Reed has plummeted to the third team. He is currently behind rookies Chad Williams and Will Demps on the depth chart.

Although it's a safe bet that Reed will claim the starting job by the season opener Sept. 8, he is not taking anything for granted.

"I have a big fight," Reed said. "The guys have been here and they have been competing. From what I saw on film from the scrimmage, they're doing real good. They're competing to be starters just like me. I'm just going to do my job, and hopefully, I can get back on top."

Reed admitted that holding out wasn't worth it.

"I didn't get what I wanted," said Reed, whose holdout earned only an additional $25,000 to his signing bonus. "It was very nerve-racking because I wanted to be here on time. At the same time, I had to understand the business part of it."

The effects of the holdout were evident all during practice.

Reed made frequent visits to get water and knelt off to the side to catch his breath. The Ravens didn't go easy on him either, making him run nearly every special teams drill.

"It was rough," Reed said. "I'm in full pads and I haven't been carrying this much weight around. So, I felt heavy. But I'll be OK next week for sure."

The Ravens will try to accelerate his conditioning by making him run sprints this morning.

"He's got to get in shape," Billick said. "There were some mental errors, which are to be expected, but we'll push him through it."

To lessen the mistakes, most of Reed's day was spent standing next to Henderson and watching team drills. It's an unusual situation for Reed, a four-year starter who was the Hurricanes' defensive leader last year.

"Right now, it's very important to get the mental picture right now and physically get himself acclimated back into the tempo," Henderson said. "What you don't want to do right now is throw him in the fire and with his competitive nature is for him to start going to fast and the next thing is he injures himself."

Reed, though, has a feel for the defense.

In four minicamps, he had solid showings and worked in sync with a Ravens starting secondary that lost three starters in the off-season. For Reed, the hurdle is taking what he has learned in the playbook and reacting to the speed of contact drills.

"[The minicamps] have made it easier to play catch-up," Reed said. "But at the same time, I haven't been out there so everything is moving a little bit quicker and I have to think a little bit faster."

Reed also has to be ready for the unexpected. In a live television interview last night, he had a pie smashed in his face by cornerback Chris McAlister, who had sneaked up behind him.

But the embarrassment won't end there. His teammates are already clamoring for an encore to yesterday's harshly criticized musical numbers.

"His singing stunk," McAlister said. "The guys weren't happy with it at all. So, he's going to have to sing again."

Next for Ravens

Preseason opponent:Detroit Lions

Site:Ravens Stadium

When:Friday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet, Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 3

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