Leadership Quality

Once the heart of the Hurricanes, safety Ed Reed now is pumping up the Ravens with game-breaking plays

November 30, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

In the football offices at the University of Miami, Sundays are for reviewing film.

Coaches arrive early and stay well into the evening watching the Hurricanes' footage from the previous day, but every once in a while, one of the school's most treasured former players in a city 1,000 miles away does something that allows for a brief break.

Usually an office assistant gives the coaches, especially on the defensive side of the ball, word that Ravens safety Ed Reed is up to his old tricks.

"We saw him make the interception [against the Miami Dolphins]," Hurricanes secondary coach Mark Stoops said. "We have a TV in the office, and whenever Ed makes a big play, we'll all go over there and watch it."

Reed, 25, left his mark with the Hurricanes as a four-year starter. Two years later, he still is all over the place, especially if Stoops feels his defensive backfield, already one of the best in the nation, needs that extra push.

"I show film of Ed and the old secondary," Stoops said. "We look at last year's film, then we go to two years ago. Those guys get pumped when they see them."

Reed was the star of a Hurricanes team his senior year that was full of stars and won the national championship. Five players on that 2001 team were selected in the first round of the draft, including Reed, chosen by the Ravens with the 24th pick in April 2002.

What Reed has done since has been remarkable. In 27 professional games, Reed has 11 interceptions, four blocked punts, two sacks and countless tackles for losses on run blitzes.

A total of six interceptions this season leaves him one behind the Miami Dolphins' Patrick Surtain for the AFC lead and sets Reed up nicely for a possible Pro Bowl berth. His blocked punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter last Sunday changed the momentum of the game against the Seattle Seahawks and ignited one of the Ravens' most exhilarating wins, 44-41, in overtime.

Reed says he is just trying to re-create history.

"I strive to be how I became at Miami and how I was in high school," Reed said. "That's why I worked out in the offseason, to do what I do now and perform on Sundays."

Though a long way from knocking off linebacker Ray Lewis as the face of the team, Reed does have a penchant for making big plays, plus a desire for the limelight, putting him in line to eventually take some attention away from his mentor.

Media savvy

The newly launched NFL Network has lined up Reed to be the Ravens correspondent, and the number of tape recorders, cameras and microphones surrounding Reed's locker, located right next to Lewis', grows every week.

Reed also has his own diary, called "Eye of the Hurricane," on the Ravens' Web site. During pre-game introductions against the Seahawks, Reed was the second-to-last player called, ahead of Lewis, and drew the second-loudest ovation.

"Ed is so ahead of where a second-year player should be, it's a shame," Lewis said. "And he understands it, which is the beauty of it. When my days are over, Ed is going to carry this ... because he's that type of leader, and he's going to get everybody around him to play. Plus he wants to win."

Never has that been more evident than in the last couple of games. Reed played one of the most complete games by a Ravens safety in the loss at Miami, then changed the momentum of the Seattle game on special teams.

The game tape against Miami could be used as an instructional film on how to play strong safety. Reed recorded nine tackles, three of Dolphins running back Ricky Williams before he made it out of the backfield.

Reed also batted down two passes and intercepted one midway through the fourth quarter.

The interception was typical for Reed, who followed quarterback Brian Griese's eyes, which were locked on a receiver drifting toward the middle of the field.

"He's certainly at this point in the season, competing at a level that not many safeties are from a total package standpoint," Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "You see safeties make interceptions in the middle of the field, but how many of them in the same game have tackles for a loss?"

Reed, as did much of the Ravens secondary, struggled against the Seahawks' passing attack, but he made up for his off-game with the blocked punt. Reed faked a hard rush to the outside before sliding to the inside shoulder of blocker Mack Strong, then extended to block the punt.

"I don't really have a move," Reed said of how he always seems to apply pressure to punters. "It's just a reaction to something I see. It's just getting to the ball.

"In the NFL, I know it's unheard of. But it changes the game, and whatever can change the game that I'm on, I'm going to try my best at doing it."

Film fest

Reed, who is unmarried, recently purchased a townhouse for himself. For fun, he spends most of his evenings watching film of the coming week's opponent with Lewis.

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