HOUSTON – Days after being the subject of a police investigation for potential drug activity at his apartment, Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver David Reed created a different kind of headline Monday night.
Reed scampered 103 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return, dashing up the right sideline after escaping a scrum of arm tacklers for the longest kickoff return in franchise history.
“It was well-blocked and I broke a couple of tackles and it was a perfect play,” Reed said. “It’s a real blessing. Perfect circumstances.”
Reed was aggressive in taking the kickoff out of the end zone, scoring his first NFL touchdown.
“He’s a tough guy,” special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Friday. “It’s certainly a trait that you look for in a kickoff returner because anytime you stop your feet on a kickoff return and you don’t hit the hole, the timing is off. The way he runs in returns is certainly the way we like him to run them: hard and fast.”
On the touchdown return, Reed definitely displayed both of those qualities.
He also continued his penchant for taking kickoffs out of the end zone.
The fifth-round draft pick from Utah hasn’t been shy about taking it out of and challenging defenders no matter how deep he’s backed up.
“He’s aggressive,” Rosburg said. “Yeah, he doesn’t like to mess around here. He gets a chance, and he’s going to go for it. We don’t want to push him down in that regard. We want him to take opportunities, but we also have gone through the idea, ‘Well, where’s the ball and who’s the kicker and what’s the hang time?’
“I think the more experience he gets, the more he develops that mental clock, that stopwatch in his head where, ‘It may be four yards deep, but if it’s a lower ball, I can take this one.’ And he has our blessing on most of those.”
As for the legal situation, it remains unresolved.
No charges have been filed against Reed, but Baltimore County police did seize evidence from his apartment in Owings Mills that’s being analyzed. He could face charges at a later date once that evidence is examined, according to police officials.
“He’ll play," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Saturday at the Ravens’ training complex. "It’s not something that really affects his football status at this time. He’ll have a chance to tell his side of it in the proper way when the time comes.
"We have to see how it all shakes out. It’s in other people’s hands right now and I think time will kind of work that out as we go."
Baltimore County police raided the fifth-round draft pick’s apartment after receiving a call about potential narcotic activity, according to police.
"Currently, he hasn’t been charged with anything," Baltimore County police spokesman Robert McCullough said. "Evidence has been seized and is being analyzed. Any charges are pending further investigation."
Reed has declined to discuss the case.
Asked if he was relieved to put the focus back on football after having his name connected to drugs this week, Reed replied: “It’s great. I don’t really got nothing to say about that.”
JUMBO PACKAGE: The Ravens went back to their rock ‘em sock ‘em days by incorporating the jumbo package into their offense.
The Ravens began the game with offensive guard Chris Chester starting at tight end and offensive tackle Marshal Yanda shifting inside to right guard and Oniel Cousins taking his place at right tackle.
The Ravens used this alignment heavily during quarterback Joe Flacco’s rookie season and on occasion last year, but had been shelved this season.
It wasn’t a particularly effective gambit during the first half as they gained 46 yards on 15 carries to average 3.1 yards per carry.
“The jumbo package, it’s something we’ve been working on all week,” said Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain, who returned from a sprained ankle. “We had some good plays and some negative plays. It’s a new look in our offense. It’s something for us to build on to get it going.”
However, the Ravens did get a short-yardage rushing touchdown out of running back Willis McGahee to open their scoring.
What the strategy did seem to do was reinforce the fact that the Ravens are willing to run the football and are trying to be more physical upfront.
FABIAN WASHINGTON SCRATCHED: The Ravens ruled out cornerback Fabian Washington against the Houston Texans with a pulled left hamstring. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report and said he would be a game-time decision after pulling his hamstring Thursday.
Rookie tight end Ed Dickson started in place of tight end Todd Heap, who has a pulled hamstring.
The Ravens also deactivated fullback Jason McKie, linebackers Jason Phillips and Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackles Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens and offensive guard Bryan Mattison.
The Texans scratched third quarterback Matt Leinart, wide receiver Dorin Dickerson, cornerback Brice McCain, strong safety Quintin Demps, guard Shelley Smith and tight ends Anthony Hill and Garrett Graham.
INJURY UPDATE: The lone injury reported by the Ravens was to safety Tom Zbikowski, who hurt his back and didn’t return.
HOMECOMING: A former University of Texas standout and a Houston native, defensive end Cory Redding recorded a big sack in the first half. He had three tackles, one for a loss and two quarterback hits.
The Ravens had Redding lead the team out before the game.
“It’s just like old times, being a kid playing on the sandlot with all your friend and family watching,” said Redding, who obtained 15 tickets for the game. “It was awesome just to lead my peers in battle, especially going back home. Everybody who was watching me since I was a little snot-nosed kid in Houston. It was great to have that support and go out there and lead my guys.”
It was Redding who called tails in overtime, a successful call.
“I called tails at the beginning of the game and we lost it,” Redding said. “But I said tails never fails so we have to come back with it. I called tails again and we got it so it was awesome.”
OFFSIDES: Offensive tackle Michael Oher was flagged for his seventh false start of the season, leading the team.
He committed three penalties during last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, flagged once for holding and twice for false starts.
“I wasn’t even close,” Oher said. “It’s a problem I have to fix now. I got to slow it down. I’m hurting my team. I got to get it done.
QUICK HITS: The Texans closed the roof of Reliant Stadium. They close it whenever it’s colder than 50 degrees. … Redding, Sam Koch and Joe Flacco represented the Ravens on the opening coin toss, which was won by the Texans. They elected to receive. …Kicker Billy Cundiff leads the NFL in touchbacks, booming his kickoffs consistently into the end zone. He has drawn little to no recognition from fans in Pro Bowl balloting, though. Will his peers and coaches around the league treat him any differently? “I do,” Rosburg said. “I think probably the fans will probably, the more they see him, the more they’ll realize what he’s doing, and Monday night’s another opportunity for that. But the thing I love about Billy is he’s really not trying to be in the Pro Bowl. He’s trying to win football games, and if it come along at the same time, that would be great. It’s remarkable how many kickers and special teams coaches I’ve seen before the game that have all commented about Billy’s performance so far and how well he’s playing and how clean his technique is. Kickers are usually the guys that comment about his fundamentals, and the special teams coaches are usually the guys that talk about his kickoff touchbacks, because the kickers want to pay attention to detail and the special teams coaches are just looking at the results, ‘Wow!’The kickers are watching all the little things that he’s doing. The things he’s done so far this year really stand out, and I think the longer the season goes on, the more exposure he gets, the more people are going to realize that.”