Ravens today: New contract or not, Ed Reed likely out until October

July 07, 2010 | Drew Forrester

It’s not really much of a secret anymore, but it looks like Ed Reed won’t be playing football for the Ravens until at least October 24 when the Buffalo Bills come to town. 

The Ravens – as expected – aren’t really addressing Reed’s recent hip surgery and his continuing battle with a 2-year old neck injury because he’s not in Baltimore receiving treatment from the club.  In other words, it’s hard to make an assessment on a guy when he’s 900 miles away in South Florida. 

But this much is certain:  The Ravens are moving forward under the impression that Reed won’t be able to start the season on the active roster. 

And Reed, no matter what he says publicly in a very obvious “keeping my options” kind-of-way, is on the fast track to missing the team’s first six games via the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. 

A local physician who requested anonymity due to his connection to the Ravens via the team’s medical team says from what he can tell, Reed’s hip surgery was far from minor or of the “clean-up” variety.

“A labrum tear in your hip is a standard sort of injury that mostly requires an arthroscopic procedure and an 8-10 week recovery time.  But a hip labrum tear could require a more complicated procedure depending on a number of things, including the age of the patient and his or her injury history in that area of the body,” says the physician.  “In Reed’s case, I’m not aware of any prior hip injuries or surgery, so that’s a good thing.  But the procedure he had that involves re-constructing the hip and re-positioning the I.T. band is very serious.  Frankly, it’s a surgery a much older patient – someone in their 50’s – who is a lifetime runner would have as a quality-of-life improvement.  Now, I wasn’t in the operating room and I haven’t seen the records of his surgery and his rehab, but I can tell you a hip re-construction warrants a standard recovery time of 3-4 months, and for an athlete, maybe more…because they have to be fully recovered before they can even start training to return to competition.”

We had Reed on “The Morning Reaction” last week and he painted a very vague picture about his injury and timetable for his return to the field. 

What he WASN’T vague about was his contract.  On no less than three occasions during the 15-minute interview, Reed mentioned the words “new contract” and even not-so-vaguely said, “And I think I deserve one”.

Word has trickled back to Charm City that Reed wasn’t thrilled with the team’s signing of Ken Hamlin, figuring the money spent on the veteran safetey could have been given to him in the form of a new deal.  What Reed fails to remember, obviously, is this:  If he’s not ready to play in September, he’s of no value to the team when the season starts and they would need someone to play in his place.  And that player who comes in needs to be paid. 

The Ravens’ role in this is also interesting.  First, they know Ed Reed better than anyone.  For those of you who don’t REALLY know Ed Reed, he’s probably the most mercurial guy in the locker room.  And because the Ravens know Reed, nothing he says or does surprises them.  A team source says, “At this point, because of the uncertainty of Ed’s return, we’re protecting ourselves at the safety position.”  That makes sense.  With Ken Hamlin’s arrival – even though he’s had a rough couple of years – the Ravens at least have a reliable performer back there to work with Dawan Landry in the secondary.

The Ravens know there’s a very good chance Reed isn’t going to be ready for training camp.  And because a player who plays in one training camp practice can’t be placed on the PUP list, it’s even more important for the Ravens and Reed to be on the same page when camp starts in a few weeks.  If Reed’s not ready to practice at the end of July, it’s highly probable he’s not going to be available at all in Westminster.  And it makes even more sense to have a veteran safety – Hamlin – in camp from day one to prepare for the season.  Once Reed misses that first training camp session – and then, of course, the rest of training camp – he’s eligible to go on the PUP list.  But that also means he can’t come back until after Game #6.

Realistically, missing six games isn’t the worst thing that could happen to Reed and the Ravens.  He’s become injury prone over the last few years and is hardly a safe bet to play 16 games anymore.  That said, with the Ravens expecting to play deep into January, missing 6 games at the start of the season would be much better for Reed and the team than missing the club’s final 6 games, including the post-season.

The Ravens have been coy about Reed’s injury for several reasons.  First, frankly, they’re not exactly sure what to think because Reed doesn’t communicate with the team much in the off-season.  Second, when you’re trying to sign a free agent safety, it’s probably not a good idea to be running around talking about how you have an injured safety who might not be ready for the start of the season.  That doesn’t provide for great bargaining leverage.  And finally, the Ravens have heard enough of Reed’s cryptic remarks about a new contract to know that some of this – how much, who knows? – might be posturing from #20.

“We’re prepared for whatever happens with Ed,” says the Ravens source.  “If he comes in and he’s ready for training camp, we’d be thrilled.  If he’s not ready to go at Westminster, we’re prepared for that.  One thing for sure, we want a healthy Ed Reed in Baltimore in 2010.”

Getting a healthy Ed Reed back is going to be easier said than done.

Getting a happy Ed Reed back might also be easier said than done.

Winning without Ed Reed? 

That’s the challenge the Ravens are likely going to face through the first 6 weeks of the season.