Matchup To Watch

November 19, 2006

Ravens free safety Ed Reed vs. Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler

George Kokinis, the Ravens' pro personnel director, sizes up a critical matchup against the Falcons:

The players

Reed quickly established himself as one of the NFL's top playmakers after being selected 24th overall in the 2002 draft. His 24 interceptions since 2002 are tied for second most in the league during that span.

Reed has two interceptions this season and is tied for second on the Ravens with seven passes broken up. The Ravens are 17-4 in games when Reed makes an interception.

Crumpler has been the go-to receiver for quarterback Michael Vick over the years. A three-time Pro Bowl player, Crumpler was the second tight end drafted in 2001, four picks behind the Ravens' Todd Heap.

He leads the Falcons with 34 catches and six touchdowns this season. Last season, he had a career-best 65 receptions for 877 yards, setting franchise records for a tight end.

What to watch

Crumpler is one of the premier tight ends in the league. It's not often that you see an all-around tight end. He's a rare blend who not only catches the ball but also has an impact as a run blocker. As a receiver, he's physical at the line of scrimmage. It's hard to re-route him off the line. He has enough quickness but also the strength to separate off the line.

Once he gets downfield, he has the athletic ability to get open, plus the size to shield and protect the ball from a defender. He's a real weapon because of his ability to run after the catch.

The Ravens will match one of their best against one of the Falcons' best. Reed has the speed to cover and the body control to work around a player who is big. It's that body control that allows him to stick an arm on an underneath route so he can make a play on the ball.

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