Right now, 46 defense is big deal to Reed

Ravens safety puts focus on new scheme rather than getting new contract

Pro Football

June 16, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

As his sticky contract situation continues to linger, safety Ed Reed said he is more concerned with the Ravens' shift in defensive philosophy than when his big payday will arrive.

Tight end Todd Heap's new deal, announced Tuesday, moves Reed up a notch in the pecking order but still presumably behind defensive end Tony Weaver and running back Jamal Lewis, both of whom are in the last season of their contracts.

Reed has two years left on his rookie contract and is slated to make $581,250 this season, far below what an NFL Defensive Player of the Year generally makes. During most of the offseason, there were rumbles that Reed might not attend this week's mandatory minicamp or training camp, which starts July 31, but he gave no indication that would be the case in his first public address earlier this week.

Instead, Reed focused on the defense.

"I feel good," Reed said. "When it happens, it happens. I'm focusing on practicing right now, learning the defense and making sure we're communicating on defense to get rolling for this year."

Still, Reed was not too optimistic his big money would come sooner rather than later. Asked if he felt Heap's contract resolution was a good sign for him, Reed said, "I don't know. When that time comes, we'll see. That's definitely something that is going to go on with my agent and the Ravens.

"I'm definitely happy. I'm blessed enough to be here, and that's all that matters."

Rather than pressuring general manager Ozzie Newsome, Reed has been in the face of new defensive coordinator Rex Ryan for classic football tapes. Chances are Reed will find himself the last person standing between an offensive player and the end zone when the Ravens switch to a 46 defense, so he wants to know how the architects, the Chicago Bears of the 1980s, played their roles.

"He's always talking about getting film from the old 46 stuff," Ryan said. "And I don't want to show it to him because he's better than any player playing there. We're in a defense that Ed Reed is going to be a star in. He can be a star in any defense."

Ryan said Reed should get the same number of chances to make the game-changing plays that have defined his career. Reed has 21 interceptions, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in three seasons.

"It's about the same," Ryan said of Reed's assignments. "There'll be times he's in man coverage. There'll be times he's in the deep middle. He'll have a lot of the same responsibilities he's always had."

If so, Reed has a decent shot at repeating as the league's top defensive player. He already knows the key.

"Pretty much just stay humble," Reed said. "And continue to work hard and let the game come to me and try not to make even more plays or jump plays. Just let the game come to me and play my defense and my responsibility."

NOTES: The Ravens hosted a "Thank the Fans Day" after practice. Coach Brian Billick, Newsome, owner Steve Bisciotti and all the players visited 10 area locations, including the Inner Harbor, City Hall and Union Memorial Hospital, to hand out decals in honor of the team's 10th anniversary celebration. ... The Ravens canceled the final practice of the offseason, which was scheduled for today. ... Cornerback Samari Rolle left practice early with a slightly strained hamstring. Rolle was hurt attempting to knock away a deep pass halfway through the practice. The injury is not believed to be serious. ... Billick stopped practice in the middle of a two-minute drill to yell at the team. The stoppage was caused, in part, by a batted-down pass the play before. "I needed to make a point very loudly and in as animated a way as I could," Billick said. ... Opening statements in linebacker Terrell Suggs' trial concluded yesterday in Phoenix, Ariz., Suggs is charged with two counts of aggravated assault for his involvement in a fight in Phoenix two years ago. The trial is expected to wrap up June 30. ... Cornerback Deion Sanders said he is leaning toward keeping No. 37, which he wore for the first time last season to match his age. "Some people were saying you should do 38 but I'm thinking I'm going to stay with 37," he said.

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