OWINGS MILLS – Ed Reed has endured a lot of pain this year, overcoming a variety of injuries to lead the league with eight interceptions.
Despite a nerve injury in his neck, a surgically repaired hip and his latest injury, bruised ribs, the Baltimore Ravens’ star free safety expressed confidence that he’ll be ready for Sunday’s playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. He didn’t practice Wednesday.
Reed suffered the rib injury against the Cincinnati Bengals and expressed relief that he didn’t break anything.
He’s also grateful that the Ravens are playing the Chiefs rather than the Indianapolis Colts, which likely would have meant a Saturday game instead of granting him an extra day to heal up.
"I’m just trying to get myself together right now," Reed said Wednesday at the Ravens’ training complex. "I’m trying not to let it stop me, but it’s painful. I’m just dealing with it. We’ll rehab up until this Sunday and that was another good reason not to be playing Indy because we’d probably be playing Saturday. That’s the only thing honestly I was praying for."
Reed has become accustomed to playing through serious ailments.
He hurt his ribs during his second interception of a Carson Palmer pass Sunday. Then, he refused to come out of the game until coach John Harbaugh ordered him to the sidelines in the second half.
Reed indicated that he suffered a bruise and damaged the muscle by his ribs.
"It’s probably both," Reed said. "I didn’t see any fracture, so that was a good thing, but it’s definitely both."
Reed had another reason not to want to play the Colts in the first round, the Ravens’ rough track record against quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning orchestrated the Ravens’ exit from the playoffs in the AFC divisional round last season.
"Me, personally, I didn’t want to go play against Peyton in this first round," Reed said. "It’s not so much it’s Peyton because I talk to my brother, Reggie Wayne, over there. Me and him are texting back and forth all season.
"He told me it’s got to go through them. So, you’ve got to respect that. They’re a great team."
Meanwhile, Harbaugh expressed optimism about Reed and offensive tackle Michael Oher who has a sprained right knee.
"They seem good," Harbaugh said. "They were out here. Seem like they’re moving around OK. I’m always optimistic. I’m an optimistic person."
Reed missed the first six games of the regular season on the physically unable to perform list following offseason hip surgery.
"It’s been tough, but I’ve been focused on it," Reed said. "After having surgery, that was something I had never been through. That was a whole different pain. It’s been tough, but trainers have been doing a great job, my doctors have been doing a great job, and me personally, just trying to stay up on it. There’s a lot of things I had to cut out and I couldn’t do and just didn’t do because I would much rather get the rest and get off my feet."
ADJUSTING TO OVERTIME RULE: The Ravens were one of four teams that voted against the new rules governing overtime that have been adopted for the postseason.
Now, merely scoring a field goal on the first drive of overtime won’t end the game.
Under the new rules, both teams get at least one possession. The lone exception is if a team scores a touchdown on the opening drive, which would end the game.
The rule change is expected to alter how coaches approach overtime.
"Obviously, there’s more value in the second possession than there has been in the past," Harbaugh said. "They can’t win on an immediate field goal. They can win it on an immediate touchdown either way. But, on that second drive, if a team goes down and kicks a field goal, they basically have four downs to move the ball down the field.
"So, that second drive has a real good chance to move down the field, I would say, odds-wise, percentages-wise, more than it normally would. So you’ve got to keep that in mind. You might see some teams defer. You might see some teams decide to kick. I think that’s a possibility, depending on the wind and all that stuff."
The sudden death rules apply if neither team scores during their first possessions. If it’s tied again after one overtime period, overtime will continue until someone scores to break the tie.
"I don’t really care," outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "I think it does a good job of just eliminating that quick pass interference-field goal-game over."
MEDIA AWARDS: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Chris Carr were recognized with awards from reporters who regularly cover the team.
Ngata was voted Most Valuable Player and Carr won the Media Good Guy award for his consistent candor and cooperation for interviews.
Ngata recorded a career-high 5 ½ sacks and posted 65 tackles to rank sixth on the defense.
"That’s pretty cool, thank you, guys," Ngata said. "I felt like this year has been a little bit different with my pass rush. I feel like I got a little better there, and hopefully, I can continue to improve in that game and just get better. Hopefully, I can be around Baltimore, because I love being here, I love the guys here, and not you guys as much [laughs], but I love the fans [laughs]."
Past winners of the Good Guy award include Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson.
"Sometimes it’s all relative, so it depends how everybody else is., but I appreciate it and I understand that the fans want to hear truth, and I try never to lie," Carr said. "I won’t lie, maybe I won’t say something how I really feel, but I won’t go out there and give a lie to you guys. And so I always try to be insightful and truthful to everybody, because fans want to hear stuff and they want accountability, too. So, I just try to do that every single week."
INJURY UPDATES: Besides Reed, three other starters didn’t practice Wednesday.
However, center Matt Birk (knee), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (thigh) are all expected to play after being rested during the first day of preparation for Sunday’s wild-card game.
Cornerback Josh Wilson (left shoulder stinger), safety Tom Zbikowski (bulging disc in his back) and linebackers Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder), Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder stinger) and Jameel McClain (back) practiced on a limited basis.
Wilson declined to discuss his injury.
"You got to ask the head man about that," he said. "Ask coach Harbaugh."
When asked if he’ll play Sunday, Wilson replied: "It’s the playoffs, what else is there what else do you play football for?
Oher participated fully despite a sprained right knee and right ankle.
Also participating fully: wide receivers David Reed (left wrist) and Derrick Mason (ankle, abdominals).
It’s unclear if Zbikowski will be back. He’s been out since getting hurt against the New England Patriots.
"I think he’s got a chance," Harbaugh said. "Like always, we’ll have to see how he practices this week. We’ll just see how it looks."
Because of a torn ligament suffered against the New Orleans Saints, David Reed is a question mark for Sunday’s game.
Reed said he’ll probably need to have offseason surgery.
Reed has a brace on his wrist and is using electric stem treatment to accelerate the healing process.
Because of concerns about ball security, Reed is unlikely to be able to return kickoffs.
He led the league with a 29.3 kickoff return average during the regular season, returning a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.
"I want to play," Reed said. "It all depends on the coaches. I can’t really catch the way I want to.
"It’s up to the coaches, really. If they want me to do kickoff coverage, I could do that."
Meanwhile, only two players are on the Chiefs’ injury report.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive guard Brian Waters both didn’t practice due to illnesses.
Both are expected to play Sunday.
Bowe is the leading receiver on the Chiefs with 72 receptions. He led the league this season with 15 touchdown catches.
"All I can go by is today, and today, he was unable to practice, and it will be listed as illness," Chiefs coach Todd Haley said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters when asked if Bowe will play Sunday.
NOT SURPRISED: Former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wasn’t surprised that his former team retained coach Marvin Lewis with a two-year contract extension Tuesday.
Houshmandzadeh, who stays in touch with Lewis via text messages and telephone calls, had predicted last week that Lewis would hold onto his job.
"I told you that," Houshmandzadeh said. "I figured it would happen. It’s good for him. It’s good for them as a team the type of coach he is. I would assume they would be very good next year."
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh’s brother, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, and his father, Jack Harbaugh, are going to attend the playoff game. "Yes, they’ll be there," Harbaugh said. "We’re going to try to keep Jim off the field." … Quarterback Joe Flacco is growing a beard and has vowed to keep it for the postseason. "You can consider it a playoff beard, I guess, if you want," Flacco said. " I usually get it to about a week’s length and then I cut it off for the game. But a couple of guys said I should probably try to keep it, and I said, ‘All right, why not?’" … Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said that coach Todd Haley has calmed down some in his second season. "I guess he’s still fiery, but it’s directed in a different way, meaning we’re winning now, so all his passion is positive now, just because winning cures everything," Johnson said during a conference call. "We didn’t win many games last year, so everything didn’t look good. So when you’re passionate about something, it’s directed a certain way. We respect him for all that he does for the team."