Safety Deserves Spotlight, Too; Reed Just as Important to Ravens as Lewis

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

NEW ORLEANS | Ten feet away in the hotel ballroom serving as the home for the Baltimore Ravens' media availability Monday night was Ray Lewis' mini-podium, complete with 15 cameras and dozens of reporters, some of whom weren't speaking English.

But Ed Reed didn't care.

Even if he will someday be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is generally regarded as the finest safety of his generation and is having a homecoming this week - he grew up in the New Orleans area.

Reed, the Ravens' other 30-something defensive leader (he's 34) will be in complete soak-up mode entering Sunday's Super Bowl against San Francisco.

"I can't explain it," he said. "This is awesome. To come back to Louisiana in front of my home crowd for the Super Bowl, I'm really speechless because of everything I've been through to get to this point. I'm just trying to enjoy it and not hold anything in."

Reed has held nothing back during a career that spans 160 regular-season games, 1,541 tackles, 61 interceptions and six All-Pro selections.

This postseason, he played all 271 Ravens defensive snaps in wins over Indianapolis, Denver and New England. This will be his first Super Bowl.

In the regular season, Reed had 58 tackles, and his four interceptions were tied for the team lead.

Vocally, Reed carried the Ravens defense when Lewis was lost to a torn triceps injury.

Lewis is a popular figure because this will be his last game, but Reed is just as important.

"He's always been a staple," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Ray gets a lot of the attention, and rightfully so, but Ed's been here for 11 years, and he's a fixture in Baltimore."

That status was in doubt a few years ago because of injuries. …


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