OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed will begin the season on the reserve physically unable to perform list as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired hip.
That designation will become official Saturday during the Ravens’ final major roster cutdown, and means that the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year will be sidelined for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.
This isn’t a surprising development considering Reed’s past statements on the recovery time required for the surgery, a four to six month period.
While the six-time Pro Bowl selection is sidelined, Tom Zbikowski is slated to start at free safety in his place after a strong preseason and a solid stint as Reed’s stand-in last season.
Reed underwent surgery in late April to repair a torn labrum in his hip, an ailment that sidelined him for four games last December.
Under NFL regulations, the soonest Reed could be eligible return to play is an Oct. 24 game against the Buffalo Bills.
During an interview at his football camp in July, Reed said that he made his injury worse by returning to play late last season.
"Like I told my coach, I’m preparing myself to try to come back for that first game," Reed said. "But who’s to say it’s going to be the first game against the Jets or the first game in October, November or December. I honestly don’t know. ..
"I don’t know how long I’m going to be out. I don’t know when I’m going to be back. I don’t know which game it’s going to be. I’m not going to rush it to come back for any particular game. I don’t want to hurt it again. I’m not going to rush it for anybody.”
Reed emphasized that his hip injury is serious enough to sideline him for the entire year if he’s not aggressive about getting back on the field as soon as possible.
"Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even be playing this year," Reed said.
Reed has been dealing with a nerve impingement for the past few years.
A neck specialist recommended that Reed have surgery on his neck to repair the damage, but he declined to do so. Eventually, it’s something Reed says he’ll have to address.
“I know I have to take care of it surgically at some point,” Reed said.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has spoken highly of Reed’s perseverance and toughness.
"He has fought through injuries as well as anybody in the NFL," Harbaugh said at the launch of training camp. "I really respect that. He will be playing for us as soon as he possibly, and I believe it will be as early as he possibly can."