David Reed trying to hang on with Ravens

After dropping passes during training camp, rookie receiver had strong game against Redskins

August 23, 2010|By Don Markus and Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

The atmosphere at FedEx Field during Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Redskins was much different than it had been during training camp at McDaniel College. For Ravens rookie receiver David Reed, so were the results.

Given a chance to play receiver in the second half of his team's 23-3 victory, Reed did in one series what he hadn't done with great regularity throughout the workouts in Westminster — he held on to the passes thrown his way.

Reed's four catches for 38 yards all came in a 14-play, 94-yard drive in the third quarter. After quarterback Mark Bulger fumbled the snap on the first play and lost a yard, Reed's 22-yard reception helped the Ravens get better field position. Reed had subsequent catches of five, six and five yards.

"It definitely was somewhat of a relief," Reed said Monday after practice in Owings Mills. "I made some plays, but I've got a lot of work to do still, I've got a lot of proving to do still. I'm going to keep grinding."

The 6-foot, 190-pound Reed is currently in a battle for the possible fifth receiver spot along with oft-injured, five-year veteran Demetrius Williams (who missed practice Monday with an ankle sprain) and third-year player Marcus Smith, one of the team's top special teams performers.

Looking back at what happened during training camp, Reed said, "I just had to relax. I was a little tight. I tried not to mess up, just thinking too much. The last few days of training camp I just relaxed and tried to make plays."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh took notice of the former Utah standout and the first of the team's two fifth-round draft choices, saying after the game against the Redskins, "When you see a guy struggle at times in practice and then step up in the game, that's a good thing."

Reed, who set a national junior college record with 111 receptions at Pasadena (Calif.) City College in 2007 and then broke single-season school records with 81 receptions and 1,188 yards for the Utes last season, said he spoke with a number of former teammates now in the NFL during his early training camp struggles.

Their advice?

"Training camp is full of ups and downs, especially with a rookie," Reed said. "I definitely experienced that."

It was also a matter of feeling comfortable.

"I'm starting to get the offense now, so mentally I can just relax and play my game. But of course I can't relax," Reed said.

Reed also impressed on a tackle he made on the kickoff immediately following the touchdown drive. Reed stopped Terrence Austin at the Redskins' 14-yard line after an 11-yard return.

"It showed I can play special teams," said Reed, who was a prolific kick returner during his two seasons at Utah. "Whatever they want to play me at, I'll play."

No longer hamstrung

Davon Drew has had a difficult time staying healthy since being drafted in the fifth round by the Ravens a year ago. After being cut by the Ravens last summer, Drew signed with the Miami Dolphins before being waived because of an injury. He then made it back to Baltimore and joined the practice squad.

This year hasn't been any easier. After tweaking his hamstring right before the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end suited up, but then sustained a more serious hamstring injury during the team's next practice.

Drew, who played at East Carolina, finally made it back on the practice field Monday.

"It was nice to be back out there," Drew said. "Watching practice [stinks]."

Drew knows that the odds are not in his favor this year, considering that the Ravens are heavily invested in a pair of rookie tight ends, third-round draft choice Ed Dickson and fourth-round selection Dennis Pitta, who led the team with 65 yards on four receptions against the Redskins.

Not being able to practice hasn't helped Drew's chances.

"It's tough, but it's part of the business," Drew said of his injury. "I've got to stay focused."

Starters to go at least first half

The Ravens plan to play their starters for at least the first half Saturday against the New York Giants, Harbaugh said.

The third preseason game is the one when most teams play their starters the longest. Harbaugh said a number of starters will go into the third quarter.

In their first two preseason games, the Ravens pulled their starters before their opponents.

"I don't know what the Giants will do, but we've kept to our plan," Harbaugh said. "And we'll do that again this week."

Tradition leaves Zorn all wet

Near the end of the preseason game at Washington, Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn became the latest to get a Gatorade shower. Zorn was the head coach of the Redskins for the previous two seasons.

Harbaugh said drenching a coach or teammate with Gatorade never gets old.

"It's kind of a tradition now," Harbaugh said. "I happen to look down there with 11 seconds left and Jim was getting drenched. That's a good thing."

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