Reed, Ravens keep minds on job

Safety's birthday a notice `to how precious life is'

September 11, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

With the country at a heightened awareness today on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the Ravens will enter their confined training facility, shelter themselves from the world and prepare as usual for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rookie safety Ed Reed will do so while celebrating a birthday that is forever linked to one of the most tragic days in American history.

"It's a reminder to how precious life is," said Reed, the Ravens' first-round pick. "It hit me even harder because not many kids grow up from where I'm from to make 23. Now I'm hitting 24, and every year I just give thanks to the Lord for keeping me healthy and safe."

Reed, who grew up in St. Rose, La., remembers his birthday last year, when he was in the early stages of an eventual national championship season at the University of Miami.

"I woke up, came in and really didn't know what happened. Then we heard about everything," Reed said. "We heard the game [against the University of Washington] was canceled, so I went home, had me a drink and just left it alone. Last year, it really put life into perspective."

While Reed and the Hurricanes learned quickly their game would be postponed, the NFL officially called off games two days after the attacks.

There was a debate over whether the games should be played, and until the decision was made, the Ravens prepared for what would have been their Monday night encounter with the Minnesota Vikings.

"We wanted to play but at the same time, it put in perspective that it is just a game and there are more important things than football," quarterback Chris Redman said. "Sometimes we don't always realize that."

The focus for Redman, Reed and the rest of the Ravens today, though, will be football, especially with an angry Tampa Bay team coming to Ravens Stadium. The Bucs are fresh off a 26-20 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Reed, who finished with three tackles in Sunday's 10-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, expects to have more of an impact against the Bucs.

The Hurricanes' best playmaker on defense last year, Reed was hesitant in his assignments early in Sunday's game. He had a complete brain freeze when he failed to tag receiver Muhsin Muhammad after what was originally ruled a sliding catch in the second quarter, arguing with the official while Muhammad got up and ran into the end zone.

The play was overturned after the Ravens challenged the call.

"The first half was kind of shaky; I didn't play very well," Reed said.

"I just need to get a little bit more physical, stop playing in space and pay more attention to detail. It's a different game now so I need to take my game to a new level."

For Reed, raising his game will began when the Ravens take the practice field and close out everything around them.

"There's nothing we'll do as a team," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of the one-year anniversary. "We'll be very respectful of it, obviously, individually and collectively. But I think it is a personal thing for everybody to deal with on a personal level."

Said right tackle Edwin Mulitalo: "We have to pay our respects for the anniversary, but we still have to come to work and get ready for Sunday. That will be good for us because I heard they are going to be playing a lot of it on television.

"But once we start those meetings at 8:15, you don't see anything until 5 in the afternoon. That's how it is for the whole season."

NOTES: The Ravens signed receiver Jeff Ogden to a one-year contract yesterday. The Miami Dolphins' punt returner the past two years and the all-time team leader with a 13.7-yard average, Ogden was beat out this preseason by former Canadian Football player Albert Johnson. The Ravens waived running back Tellis Redmon to make room for Ogden, though Redmon might be re-signed to the practice squad. ... The Ravens cut defensive tackle Nate Bolling from the practice squad and will sign former Morgan State receiver Marc Lester to the practice squad today.

Next for Ravens

Opponent:Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Site:Ravens Stadium

When:Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line:Bucs by 3 1/2

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