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Reed a Rare Athlete

Posted Jan 7, 2009

Ed Reed playing baseball? This playmaking safety said he'd give it a try.

When Ed Reed snares an interception – which he did an NFL-best nine times in 2008 – he immediately transforms from a safety to a receiver, regularly sprinting to daylight with his theft

But when he’s finished with football, could there be an even bigger transformation in his future?

When asked Tuesday what he would do instead of the NFL, Reed quickly – surprisingly, even – went to the MLB amongst other things.

“I’d like to give baseball a try,” he said with a smile. “And coaching, doing some things in the neighborhoods, helping kids out across the world. There’s really no limit, so hopefully in the future, sometime I’ll be doing that.”

It might not be so far-fetched for Reed to pull a Deion Sanders, the former double threat cornerback and center fielder.

Reed showed some of his fielding skills last week, when he snared two interceptions in a 27-9 win over the Miami Dolphins.

His first was a classic fly ball. Quarterback Chad Pennington unleashed a deep rainbow that Reed simply ran under for the pick, and then he took off for a zig-zagging 64-yard touchdown.

After the game, some reporters remarked the catch took a page from Willie Mays’ book.

And should Reed ever make the leap to another sport, he doesn’t think he would write the same story as Michael Jordan, who briefly put his Hall of Fame basketball career on hold for an unsuccessful stint in the minor leagues.

“Hopefully, not the minors, man,” Reed said. “I’m a professional player right now. I feel like – not that I would be better than Mike - but with a little practice, I definitely could be effective in the outfield, stealing some bases, pinch-hitting.”

Reed frequently offers proof to back his proclamation.

Over Baltimore’s last seven games, Reed has notched 10 interceptions, upping his career total (regular-season and postseason) to 48. He scored four touchdowns this year, which give him 12 since the Ravens drafted him 24th overall in 2002.

The Ravens hope and expect to see more of that production this weekend, as they prepare for a playoff matchup with the Tennessee Titans Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

One day after Reed was passed over for his second NFL Defensive Player of the Year award – which was won by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison – Baltimore’s players and coaches know what a special player they have in the locker room.

“League MVP no doubt,” wideout Mark Clayton said of Reed. “He deserves all of the accolades. Ed is such a good guy and he really knows the game. With the things he does, nothing really surprises us.”

Added head coach John Harbaugh: “[He has a] tremendous feel for the game. Very, very intelligent player. Studies as well or better than anybody. And he’s a highly-disciplined player. He plays his position as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Reed received eight votes from a national media panel, compared to Harrison’s 22 and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware’s 13, who finished with 16 and 20 sacks, respectively.

But Reed’s impact on all three phases of the game might make him more valuable a talent than sack specialists. Not only does he own 40 tackles and 14 pass deflections to go along with his prolific interception and touchdown tallies this year, but No. 20 has also blocked three punts for scores and taken a punt return to the end zone during his career.

“It really is just natural at this point,” Reed said. “[Whether it’s] blocked punts, returned punts – [I’ve] played offense before – you want to score. We talk about it on defense, and we do it at practice.”

According to his teammates, that communication is what sets Reed apart from other defenders.

Notorious for his tireless film sessions, Reed is like a quarterback in the secondary, sometimes calling the offensive plays along with the opposing signal-caller.

“We all study and watch film together, and we all are on the same page,” said cornerback Samari Rolle. “Whenever we communicate, we make plays. He does the best job of communicating, which is why he’s always around the ball.”

There was a point before the season even began where Reed’s availability for this year was in question.

The safety visited multiple doctors to get consultation on a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder. Reed decided to continue and play, which obviously worked out for both parties.

“My brother always talks to me when I’m hurt,” Reed said, noting that he is constantly monitoring the nerve issue. “He’ll be like, ‘If we can walk, talk and run, we’re going to play.’ The Ravens know that.

“I still deal with it on a daily basis, still think about my livelihood after football. But right now, I’m not focused on that. I’ve got other injuries that came up after the last game, but there isn’t much you can do about it.”

Reed’s attitude is all about deflecting attention from himself. Singular honors don’t concern him.

He doesn’t need to be the NFL’s top defensive player. He dismisses talk about being the best safety the league has ever seen.

Considering the multiple talents of No. 20, however, it is difficult to pin down anything at which Reed can’t excel.

“It’s really just me being the best that I can be right now,” Reed said. “Every safety has something different that they bring to the table.”

Like a five-tool player on the baseball diamond, Reed certainly brings a lot to the gridiron.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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