Ed Reed insists Sunday's matchup between the Ravens and Texans is just another game.
Reed tried to downplay facing his former team, which could be his debut for the Texans, but the more he talked it was clear that Sunday could be an emotional return for the long-time Raven.
It will be Reed's first time back at M&T Bank Stadium since the Ravens celebrated their Super Bowl XLVII title seven months ago, and his running mate Ray Lewis will also return to get inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime.
"It's a special day," Reed said. "It really is going to be a special day, with me coming back, Ray going into the Ring of Honor, the Texans playing the Ravens."
Whether Reed actually plays in his return to Baltimore is still up in the air. He is recovering from offseason hip surgery and has missed the first two games of the regular season. Reed has practiced this week, but was still non-committal about his status for Sunday.
"I'm not confident about nothing but going day-to-day the way I've been," Reed said. "There's no confidence about it if I haven't played. You can't be confident if you haven't been on the field."
Reed maintained that it wouldn't be any more difficult for him to sit out against the Ravens.
"Not at all," Reed said. "Like I said, I'm preparing for the long haul."
The 35-year-old safety signed with the Texans this offseason following 11 seasons in Baltimore where he built a Hall of Fame resume. Houston signed him to a three-year deal reportedly worth $15 million, and Reed said that once he hit free agency this summer he thought there was only about a 50-50 chance he would remain a Raven.
Reed took the better offer in Houston, and said he's not bitter at all about the way his career in Baltimore ended.
"I have no regrets about being a Raven and things transpired how they do – it's a business," Reed said.
Reed spoke glowingly about his time in Baltimore, and admitted that it could be tough going into the opposing team's locker room for the first time this week.
"Baltimore is family," he said. "I miss walking into 'The Bank' on Sunday.
"I have a lot of memories; I cherish that and always will. Being a Raven, that's where I was raised in the NFL. I did a lot of growing; we did a lot of special things. That's something that could never be taken away and never will. There's a lot of love there."
Reed used to talk about finishing his career in Baltimore, and after the Super Bowl he spoke openly about winning back-to-back titles for the Ravens.
Now he's guaranteeing a Super Bowl for his new team.
"You remember me saying I wanted to repeat, and I still will repeat, just with a different team," Reed said.
The Ravens have said they want Reed to have a place in the organization when he retires, and his former teammates and coaches had nothing but positive things to say about him during the week. Reed was a fan favorite and iconic leader in the Ravens' locker room, and players are looking forward to re-connecting for a moment on Sunday.
"It was a sad day when he left," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "I know I wish he was still here. It's going to be great just for me seeing him again. It's just going to be great to see how the crowd reacts to him."
The Ravens have cheered Reed on for years, even before many of the current players were even on the roster.
"I think it's strange just because everybody views him as a Raven," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "The fact of the matter is that I knew Ed Reed as a Baltimore Raven before I started playing on the Baltimore Ravens. So, it makes it a little bit different. It kind of makes him a little bit more than a teammate of mine. At one point, I was a fan of his."
That said, his friends know that for this week they have to emphasize that he's another player on the opposing sideline.
"I'll be happy to be out there to see him, but he's my opponent," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs added. "He's no longer wearing our colors, and we will try to win the game."
Much has changed in the few months that Reed left Baltimore. He and Lewis are gone, along with six other starters from the Super Bowl team. Flacco and Suggs have taken over as the team leaders.
Reed even said it was "weird" watching the Ravens on film and seeing all the changes.
Now Reed will get a chance to come back to the place where he grew up in the NFL, possibly for the final time as a player, and enjoy the atmosphere of a place where he created so many lasting memories.
"My time in Baltimore was awesome – every bit of it," Reed said. "I have no regrets, from when Ozzie [Newsome] called me on draft day to being in the old facility, practicing in the snow with [former head coach Brian] Billick, and everything we went through with coach 'Harbs' and growing, iron sharpening iron.
"I have a lot of great memories, a lot of great friends. And at the end of the day, I know it's just football that we're coaching against and playing against, so a lot of great memories."