By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
WESTMINSTER, Md., Aug. 1 -- Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed always has been obsessed with watching game film, searching for tendencies or anything that might help him prepare for an opponent. This offseason was no different, except he knew that he had to put in more time, especially coming off such a frustrating season.
"It's a matter of finding ways to get around quarterbacks and knowing their reads," Reed said. "Knowing what they're looking at and studying them more than they study me."
Last year, Reed had a subpar -- by his high standards -- and injury-marred season. But in June, the Ravens made Reed the highest-paid safety in the NFL, signing him to a six-year extension worth $40 million, including a reported $15 million to $16 million in guaranteed money.
"He's never shied away from taking a leadership role, contract or no contract," Coach Brian Billick said. "But obviously he's got less on his mind now than he would have had."
Said Reed: "Money doesn't define me. It never did, it never will. I'm a football player, and I'll go ahead with that."
Last season, Reed, 27, expected to build on the dominating performance he had in 2004, when he became the third safety to be named the league's defensive player of the year. But Reed suffered a high ankle sprain in a game against Cleveland Oct. 16 and missed the next six games, the first time in his professional career he was forced to the sideline.
When Reed came back in the 13th week of the season, he clearly wasn't the same player. He dropped several would-be interceptions -- a problem that seemed to plague the entire Ravens secondary. Reed finished the season with one interception, which came in the season finale, one year after leading the league and setting a franchise record with nine, which he returned for an NFL record 358 yards.
"You've got to make the opportunities when they come to you," Reed said. "I think everybody was focused more on my ankle than anything, so I think I was too."
The Ravens have no concerns about Reed, but the question is who will fill the safety spot opposite him. Will Demps, the free safety who played alongside Reed since 2002, signed with the New York Giants in the offseason. Chad Williams, who spent four years with the Ravens and stepped in for Reed when he was hurt, went to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Ravens were forced to be creative to fill the holes in their secondary last season; at times Adalius Thomas, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound linebacker-defensive end, dropped back to play safety. They may use that package again this season, but they are also searching for a starter.
Baltimore drafted Dawan Landry, who was named second team all-ACC as a senior at Georgia Tech, in the fifth round. The Ravens reacquired Gerome Sapp, who spent the 2003 season in Baltimore before moving to Indianapolis, via a trade in June. B.J. Ward is in his second season after making the team as an undrafted free agent last year.
"It's from pump-faking to shifts to certain tendencies we have as a defense on plays we call, knowing that I'm going to be at a certain position," Reed said when asked how opponents prepare for him. "That's where the chemistry with another safety comes into play, where you easily switch off from a strong to a free safety. . . . You look at the things that coordinators and quarterbacks are doing, and more than anything, the coordinators are telling the quarterbacks to find out where [Reed] is and not go to that side."
Raven Notes: Wide receiver Mark Clayton (hamstring) was held out of practice as a precaution. . . . Linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs and fullback Justin Green were involved in the first skirmish of training camp. Teammates quickly separated the two, though not before Suggs appeared to kick Green in the torso. . . . Tackle Jonathan Ogden, whose father died last Wednesday, made a brief visit to practice on Tuesday morning. The Ravens canceled practice for Friday afternoon because several players and team officials plan on attending the funeral of Shirrel Ogden. . . . The morning practices for the remainder of the week will begin at 8:15.