OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Over the last four seasons, few in the NFL have played with more injury concerns than Ravens safety Ed Reed.
And with star linebacker Ray Lewis sidelined for the last two weeks with a turf toe injury and appearing likely to miss his third straight game this Sunday in Cleveland, his longtime teammate has advised him to think about the big picture with five regular-season games remaining and a likely playoff run to follow.
Reed believes patience is the key, especially with backups such as Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan, who have shown competence in holding down the position — for the time being, at least.
“Ray is working hard to try to get back out here,” Reed said. “We all know that. I told him, ‘Don’t rush it.’ At the end of the day, we need him for the long haul of the season,which is coming up. We would love him to be playing right now, but that goes back to what I say about being professional. The next guy, he has to understand that. For one, you have to prepare like a starter on our defense; we don’t ask for nothing less around here. Everybody has to be ready to play at any given time, because you never know when somebody’s going to go down.”
Reed missed all of training camp last year and began the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which forced him to miss the first six games of the season before recording eight interceptions in the Ravens’ last 10 games.
The Ravens were 4-2 with reserve safety Tom Zbikowski replacing the ball-hawking Reed in the starting defense.
“When I was out last year, Zibby stepped right up, and we won games,” Reed said. “That’s the same thing that has to happen now if Ray is not going to play this week or the week after. Guys have to understand that they have to be professionals and hold their jobs down.”
With it becoming more apparent that Lewis will be playing at less than 100 percent whenever he does return to action this season, Reed believes the 36-year-old linebacker should take as much time as he can to get the toe as healthy as possible before he has no choice but to force the issue.
“I think Ray’s been around long enough to understand that he shouldn’t and he probably won’t [come back too soon],” Reed said. “At the end of the day, he still wants more out of this and not make that foot worse than what it is.”
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