The NFL has announced a one-game suspension without pay for safety Ed Reed for repeated violations of player safety rules.
According to the league press release, the specific rule Reed has broken more than once is "hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players."
The suspension comes after Reed received an unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter of Sunday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Reed hit wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the head area. After being knocked backwards, Sanders popped up to his feet, showing he was not injured.
It's Reed's third violation in the past three seasons of the rules protecting defenseless players.
One came earlier this year against the New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch, for which Reed was fined $21,000. The other was in 2010 for a hit against New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
After the Branch hit, Reed and the veteran wideout slapped hands on the field, as if to show there were no hard feelings.
"They were all inadvertent," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "None of those were with intent to injure or to harm in any way.
"I think when you look at the hits, that's pretty obvious. We all know Ed. Ed respects the game. He respects his fellow players."
Harbaugh said he was "very surprised" by the suspension, and he's likely not alone.
Reed has long been a proponent of player safety in interviews.
It could add to Reed's unhappiness with the NFL front office. He sounded off about fines earlier this year after the Ravens were punished for not listing Reed on the injury report.
"He's a good person, and he's got a good heart," Harbaugh said. "He's got tremendous respect for the game, and we stand behind him in that respect and as a team and as an organization."
The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks. Reed is not allowed to practice this week or even be at the Under Armour Performance Center. He will be reinstated on Monday, Nov. 26.
Reed told the Ravens that he will immediately appeal the suspension. Harbaugh said the Ravens are expecting a decision by Wednesday.
Reed is the second NFL player suspended this season for such hits this season. Denver Broncos linebacker Joe Mays was suspended for one game for an illegal hit against Houston quarterback Matt Schaub that took off a piece of his ear.
Last year, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison was suspended one game after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
Reed's suspension is ill-timed for the Ravens.
The secondary is already short-handed with injuries to cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (knee), Jimmy Smith (sports hernia) and cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring). Safety James Ihedigbo, who had a sack against the Chargers in limited time, is expected to step in for Reed if the suspension is upheld.
The Ravens are also preparing to play the San Diego Chargers, a team that put up 34 points and 270 yards in the air against Baltimore last year.
"If we don't have Ed, that's a blow," Harbaugh said. "That will be something that will hurt us on defense. Once again, someone else is going to have to step up and play really well."
Reed's teammates began to respond on Twitter, including one tweet from linebacker Jameel McClain.