It was a rocky offseason for Ed Reed, filled with cryptic comments about retirement and hints about his desire for a long-term contract.
The mercurial safety skipped a mandatory minicamp without informing the Ravens and suggested he might hold out at the start of training camp.
But after all the talk suggesting disenchantment, you’d never know the 11-year veteran was unhappy watching him on the practice field in Owings Mills this past week — after he reported to camp on time. Whether laughing it up with teammates about professional wrestling or picking off yet another pass as Ravens fans have seen countless times, the 33-year-old is still having a blast playing football.
Entering the final year of a six-year contract that will pay him $7.2 million in 2012, Reed made it known Wednesday where he wants to be beyond this season.
“The talks have already been there,” Reed said. “I know Ozzie [Newsome] and them know I want to be here. We will get that done when it’s time to cross that bridge. I’m dealing with football right now, and they know that.”
Acknowledging that conducting negotiations during the season would be difficult since he doesn’t have an agent, Reed seemed content with reevaluating the situation next winter. He admitted the nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder he’s been dealing with since the end of the 2007 season is still a very real concern, one he considered while weighing his decision to return this season.
Last year, the eight-time Pro Bowl safety played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2008 despite dealing with a shoulder stinger sustained in a Monday night loss at Jacksonville. However, Reed accumulated only three interceptions and seemed increasingly hesitant in making tackles that would put his shoulder at risk.
A strong postseason defused concerns about his declining ability, but many still wonder how much the future Hall of Fame safety has left.
“They know I am assessing myself year to year,” Reed said. “Would I like to play more? Of course, but what the body tells you is something different. That’s something that you always deal with after the season.”
As Reed stewed over his future during the offseason — drawing criticism for contradictory comments often made in the same interviews — the organization remained quiet while giving the safety time to think and reflect on where he was at this point in his career and life.
The expectation was always the same, no matter who you asked. Reed would be on the football field when all the dust settled.
“The one thing about Ed is he’s a professional,” secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “[He] loves this game, prepares like no other, and to stay away from it would probably have been really hard for him. But I’m glad he’s back with us, moving full speed ahead.”
For now, all appears to be forgotten with Reed appearing as healthy as can be at this point in his career and performing at the same level in practice the Ravens have seen for years. On Wednesday, Reed shined during an 11-on-11 session, breaking up a pass intended for wide receiver Jacoby Jones and grabbing an interception on the final play of a drive.