With Reed’s two fumbles and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, it’s clear the second-year receiver won’t be returning kicks against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The man who will be back deep on kickoffs is anyone’s guess, however, as the Ravens continue to look for stability at the position after Reed’s gaffes cost them dearly in Seattle.
“I think we’re looking for our kick returner,” Harbaugh said. “Probably [Lardarius] Webb’s our best guy if you look at it, but he’s a starting corner and he’s our punt returner. You can’t put too much on any one guy’s plate. We’re looking for the best guy to do it. That’s where we’re at.”
The Ravens could elect to shift Webb to the kick return spot and use defensive back Chris Carr as their primary punt returner. Carr lacks the explosiveness needed to return kicks, but he is a safe choice to field punts cleanly and hand the ball back to the offense. Other options the Ravens might consider at kick returner would be LaQuan Williams (whose playing time as the No. 3 receiver has declined in recent weeks), reserve safety Tom Zbikowski, and starting wideout Torrey Smith.
Reed may find himself with another opportunity down the road, but Harbaugh’s message was clear regarding the return man’s inability to protect the football on a play crucial to gaining field position.
“You can’t turn the ball over,” Harbaugh said. “That’s job one, and David knows that. That’s something that he works on very hard just like all our guys do. You can’t turn the ball over, especially in a kickoff return situation. It’s just not something that we’re going to be able to do and expect to win football games.”
Evans returning this week?
Despite practicing all last week on a limited basis, wide receiver Lee Evans missed his seventh straight game on Sunday with the left ankle injury he’s battled since late August. The veteran did not suffer any setbacks in his return to practice, a good sign for a potential return to the field against the Bengals.
However, Harbaugh still wasn’t ready to deem Evans ready to return after such a long layoff and just three days of limited work. The painfully familiar “wait-and-see” approach will once again be at work regarding the 30-year-old receiver’s status this week.
“I think we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “That’s to be determined, you know. Always hopeful, but we’ll have to see.”
The Ravens coach did not report any new injuries on Monday after the team returned to Owings Mills.