Even with the nerve impingement and a torn labrum in his shoulder, Reed is one of only two defensive starters from Week 1 to play in all 15 games this season. While his tackling ability has come under heavy scrutiny, Reed has 58 tackles, the most he’s had since 2006. He also has four interceptions, which is tied for the team lead with cornerback Cary Williams.
An injury bug that’s taken a massive chunk out of the Baltimore defense this season seems to have avoided the elder statesman of the secondary — at least in relative terms.
“I’m doing the right things physically. It’s something I take pride in,” Reed said. “It’s something I try to help the young guys with across the league. It’s something I want to continue with when I’m done with football. It’s such a grueling time in your life for football players.”
Reed has spoken out about player safety on a number of occasions and how the league needs to do more to take care of its players. And he was fined $55,000 Thursday for his penalized hit on New York’s Victor Cruz last Sunday.
His standing in the eyes of the league and the organization may be on shaky ground, but those closest with Reed have praised a willingness to mentor younger players over the last couple years that didn’t exist earlier in his career. Reed credited the influence of teammate Ray Lewis in preparing him to have a long, successful run in a profession in which most players barely survive two or three seasons. He has returned the favor to such defensive backs as Williams, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Chykie Brown over the last few years.
“Having friends like Ray. When I came into this game, to have the older guys take you under the wing and talk professionalism with you,” Reed said. “For me, to know Ray and spending the time I’ve spent with Ray over the years, knowing his work ethic, knowing how many years he’s been playing, knowing this was a business coming into it and the life expectancy of a football player was short-lived when I came in.”
That life expectancy for his run in Baltimore might be coming to an end, but it’s apparent Reed isn’t concerned with anything other than the one interception he’s been unable to grab during his run in Baltimore — a Super Bowl trophy.
And it’s the one jewel that nine Pro Bowl selections in 11 seasons cannot touch.
“The one thing you hated as a Pro Bowl player was that the Super Bowl team came and they were introduced last,” said Reed, recollecting his earlier seasons when the exhibition was still played the week after the NFL’s title game. “Me and Ray used to always talk about it in my first years [in Honolulu].
“We wanted to be those guys being introduced.”