Ravens' Reed hides, seeks interceptions

September 04, 2006|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun Reporter

Reed goes into hiding in search of interceptions Ravens safety Ed Reed used to consider it a chess match when going head-to-head with a quarterback.

Now, when he faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Chris Simms in the regular-season opener Sunday, it'll be more like hide-and-seek.

Deception has become the most improved part of Reed's game this season, and for good reason. Because quarterbacks threw away from him last season, Reed has concentrated on acting like he's going one way before taking off where the ball is really headed.

"Ed has [an uncanny] ability to anticipate where the ball is going. He's understanding that you have to wait for that to happen instead of getting it right away," secondary coach Mark Carrier said. "He knows that he's the guy that quarterbacks look for on the field. He's doing a great job of understanding that sometimes you have to decoy the quarterback a little bit."

With quarterbacks avoiding him, Reed failed to live up to his 2004 season, when he became the third safety to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He finished with a career-low one interception (which came in the season finale) and with 12 passes broken up.

Reed acknowledged that he was frustrated because he was so accustomed to making plays. In his first 48 games, he had intercepted 21 passes and scored six touchdowns.

"Eventually, I know they are going to come close enough where I can possibly make the play," Reed said. "That's why you play the game. It's the challenge of knowing the possibility is still there to make the play."

Reed, though, wasn't the same player physically most of last year.

He suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 16 and missed the next six games, the first time he was sidelined in the NFL. When Reed came back in Week 13, he clearly wasn't his old self, dropping several would-be interceptions.

"You've got to make the opportunities when they come to you," Reed said. "I think everybody was focused more on my ankle than anything, so I think I was, too."

There are no such distractions for Reed now.

He is fully recovered from the injury and doesn't have to worry about being a free agent at the end of the season. In June, the Ravens made Reed the highest-paid safety in the NFL, signing him to a six-year extension worth $40 million.

"He reminds me of Rod Woodson because he's so smart and knows how to read the offense," said Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, who faced Reed when Mason played for the Tennessee Titans. "With that smartness and athleticism, he's the top free safety in the league."

Reed is obsessed with studying the game, looking to break down the minute details of an offense. He'll even review his notes right before going onto the field on game day so the observations are fresh in his mind.

His first opposing quarterback this season presents a challenge. Although Simms is entering his second full season as a starter, he doesn't make youthful mistakes. He didn't throw an interception in five of his last six regular-season games last year.

But if Simms does mess up, Reed will be prepared.

"When you see certain alignments or know players' tendencies, you've got to react," Reed said. "That definitely minimizes half of the game, mentally and physically. Once you know what they're doing - and where the ball is going - you can put yourself in better position to make the play or be around the ball."

Reed will have the additional responsibility of teaching as well as playing alongside Dawan Landry, the team's fifth-round pick who won the strong safety job in training camp.

But Reed said that doesn't mean he has stopped learning the game.

"I still think I've got a long way to go," Reed said. "They're watching me more than before, so it's a matter of finding ways to get around the quarterback, knowing their reads and studying myself more than they're studying me."

Notes -- / The Ravens named quarterback Drew Olson, safety Jamaine Winborne, tight end Rob Abiamiri (Mount St. Joseph and University of Maryland), linebacker Dennis Haley, offensive tackle Michael Kracalik and receiver Romby Bryant to their practice squad.jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

NFL schedule

Week 1


Matchup (Line) Time TV

Miami at Pittsburgh (-5) 8:30 p.m. 11, 4


Ravens at Tampa Bay (-3) 1 p.m. 13

Atlanta at Carolina (-4 1/2 ) 1 p.m.

New Orleans at Cleveland (-3) 1 p.m.

Seattle (-3 1/2 ) at Detroit 1 p.m.

Philadelphia (-3) at Houston 1 p.m.

Cincinnati at Kansas City (-4 1/2 ) 1 p.m.

Buffalo at New England (-8) 1 p.m.

Denver (-3 1/2 ) at St. Louis 1 p.m.

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (-2 1/2 ) 1 p.m.

San Francisco at Arizona (-7 1/2 ) 4:15 p.m.

Chicago (-3) at Green Bay 4:15 p.m.

Dallas at Jacksonville (-3) 4:15 p.m.

Indianapolis (-3 1/2 ) at N.Y. Giants 8:15 p.m. 11, 4

Next Monday

Minnesota at Washington (-6) 7 p.m. ESPN

San Diego (-2 1/2 ) at Oakland 10:15 p.m. ESPN

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