Rookie looks up to Reed in a big way

Street Talk Rookie looks up to Reed in a big way

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WESTMINSTER — A bit nervous and excited, Lardarius Webb approached his idol in January with his fingers crossed that Baltimore Ravens All-Pro free safety Ed Reed would be amenable to an autograph and an enthusiastic greeting.

For Webb, that introduction to Reed outside the visitor’s locker room represented a thrilling moment following the Ravens’ road playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Reed, who intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown against the Dolphins, is the gold standard as far as NFL safeties go. And Webb, a fast-rising draft prospect at the time from tiny Nicholls State in Louisiana, was just hoping not to be snubbed.

Instead, Webb was greeted warmly. Little did he know that he would eventually wind up in the same defensive backfield as Reed after being drafted in the third round by Baltimore in April.

Now, Webb will join Reed on the field this morning in Westminster as the Ravens will conduct their first full-team practice.

"When I met him, I never knew how he would be," said Webb, who attended the Miami game as a guest of Ravens cornerback Frank Walker. "When I met Ed, he was the coolest guy. It made me love him even more. He was like, ‘How are you doing? Yeah, I’ll sign an autograph. Anything you need, just call me. Get my number and call me. I’ll help you out.’

"As a young guy, it was like, ‘That’s what I want to be to the little kids when I grow up. I want them to look up to me like that and still be positive to them, being good, not mean like a lot of guys."

The two-time Division I-AA All-American selection arrives with prestigious credentials of his own with 179 career tackles, seven interceptions, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and totaling nearly 1,500 return yards with three touchdowns.

The Opelika, Ala. native’s reputation as an Ed Reed fanatic preceded him in Baltimore after being picked 88th overall.

And that has already set up the rookie for some good-natured ribbing from the veterans.

“They knew it, the coaches told him,” said Webb, who signed a three-year, $1.714 million contract this summer that included a $529,500 signing bonus. “I didn’t go up like, ‘Ed, I love you.’ It’s great to be around him. He’s a great guy. I don’t want to crowd him.”

Webb even wore Reed’s trademark No. 20 jersey in college.

And Reed is definitely worth emulating as a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year who was named to his fifth Pro Bowl last season as the only unanimous All-Pro selection in the NFL last year.

Reed has intercepted a franchise-record 43 career passes, more than any other player since he entered the league seven years ago. And he has returned five intercept ions for touchdowns while also blocking four punts and returning three for scores.

Webb is primarily playing cornerback, but has the versatility and athleticism to also play safety and also return kicks.

"Lardarius Webb should play a lot of special teams," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The more he plays on defense, the more we’ll have to manage his reps. But he’s a young guy, and I would be disappointed if he didn’t earn a lot of spots in different roles."

Working toward that goal, Webb is trying to follow Reed’s mental and physical regimen as a fellow student of the game.

“I was crazy about him, I idolized him, Ed, Ed, Ed,” Webb said. “To be in the same defensive meeting room as him, I try not to crowd him. I just try to listen to him and pick his brain to see how he studies, how he practices, how he does everything. Greatness is not just talent.

“It takes more to be great. I try to sit back and watch him. There’s a lot those guys can teach me as I grow up. I try to pay attention to them, what they eat, all the little things and what they do after practice. Is it cold tub? Film room? They pay attention to everything. It’s straight studying the game.”

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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