After battling health issues over the last four seasons, the future of Ravens safety Ed Reed had remained in doubt this off-season, but it appears the eight-time Pro Bowl defensive back will return for an 11th season.
General manager Ozzie Newsome revealed at his press conference at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis that Reed informed head coach John Harbaugh he plans to play next season. The 33-year-old finished with just three interceptions despite playing in all 16 regular-season games in 2011, the first time he’d played a full season since 2008.
“I didn’t know it was a big question to be honest with you,” Harbaugh told AM 1570 WNST following Newsome’s press conference on Friday. “I’ve been going by that all along.”
Reed has dealt with a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder since the end of the 2007 season and underwent off-season hip surgery that forced him to miss the first six games of the 2010 season while on the physically unable to perform list. The 2002 first-round pick struggled in his ability to tackle this season and grabbed only one interception after picking off two Ben Roethlisberger passes in the Ravens’ 35-7 season-opening win on Sept. 11.
The free safety appeared to raise his level of play in two playoff games, finishing with 10 tackles, an interception, and six pass breakups.
“I thought he was in the best shape of his career since [I’ve] been here in 2008, the most healthy he’s been — physically, in the best shape,” Harbaugh said. “He really worked really hard in the off-season. He really took care of himself. He was moving around really well. People weren’t really throwing the ball his way.
“The tackling part of it, I think Ed’s smart in some ways. The Cincinnati [missed tackle], he’d like to have that one back, but the other ones, he found ways to get guys down. If he wasn’t quite smashing in there like he did before, he’d probably tell you he’s probably just being smart in some situations. As far as playing pass defense, no question I’d say he’s the same guy he’s been for the last few years — or better even.”
Entering the final year of his contract, Reed is scheduled to make $7.2 million and has an $8.5 million cap number in 2012.
To hear Harbaugh’s entire conversation with AM 1570 WNST at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon, click HERE.