OWINGS MILLS, MD — Star free safety Ed Reed will return for a 10th season, Harbaugh predicted.Reed missed six games last season after undergoing offseason hip surgery. He still led the league with eight interceptions.
“I’m very impressed with and proud of Ed Reed, always have been, but even moreso this year,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve seen him say publicly where he plans on playing for as long as he can, and he’s told me, I don’t think he’d mind me saying this, he wants to play football. Ed’s got a chance this offseason to be healthier than he’s ever been going into a season because I don’t think he has anything major, that I’m aware of right now, any major injuries.
"He’s got some things he’s got to work through, but I think he’s going to have a full year of offseason conditioning. He’s really excited about that. I don’t want to speak for him, he’ll have to tell you all that, but I think Ed’s going to have a great year next year.”
D. REED TO HAVE SURGERY: Rookie wide receiver and kick returner David Reed is going to have surgery soon to have his torn wrist ligament repaired.
“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “I was going to be in a cast in the a few days, but I got this little rash from wearing this. I’m going to wait for that to clear up and put it in the cast.”
Reed led the NFL in kickoff returns with a 29.3 average, including a franchise-record 103-yard return for a touchdown.
He predicted he’d be healthy quickly.
“I can’t wait to be back,” Reed said. “I wish next season could start tomorrow.”
KINDLE TO RETURN: The Ravens intend to hold onto outside linebacker Sergio Kindle even though there are no guarantees that he’ll be able to play football again due to him fracturing his skull in late July during a fall down two flights of stairs.
“First of all, I think it’s healing probably, the neurologist reports and those kinds of things making sure that it is safe for him to play,” Harbaugh said. “From what I hear, there’s a possibility of that. He’s doing very, very well, probably making progress faster than anticipated.
“Then, it’s just going to be a football growth thing, and obviously a maturity type of thing. But we’re going to give him every opportunity to do that and go through the spring here and see how he progresses. I can’t say it’s high hopes because he’s coming back from such a tough spot, but I think he’s got a chance.”
Kindle is also facing a driving under the influence charge following his arrest last month in Howard County.
Drafted in the second round last spring out of the University of Texas, Kindle hasn’t given up hope on moving on from a lost rookie season and being back next year.
“The guys never lost trust in me,” Kindle told reporters. “It’s just me and my decision-making. That’s what it’s mainly about. I have to make better decisions, grow up and be a man. That’s what it takes in the NFL.
“You have to be a man. It’s not only football. It’s about what you do outside the field. You got to be able to handle the spotlight as much as you want it.”
Signed to a one-year, $320,000 contract with no signing bonus and placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, Kindle can be retained with a minimum exclusive-rights tender.
Despite the legal problems, the Ravens are sticking with Kindle.
“At some point in time, there’s a balance to all these things,” Harbaugh said. “There’s nothing for us to gain by not giving him an opportunity to become a player. We’ve got a lot invested in him right now. I think he understands what he needs to do.
“We will see based on what he does, but he’s a good person. He’s got a good heart. He wants to do the right thing, and he’s got a chance to be a very good player, so we’ll do everything we can to see if we can make that happen.”
Kindle said he hasn’t heard anything negative about his prospects.
“Nothing bad has come out of their mouth, but they haven’t talked about contracts,” Kindle said. “I don’t see nothing negative coming out of it.”
Kindle, who has been wearing a helmet while doing individual drills since he’s not medically cleared to practice, plans to take classes back in his hometown of Dallas during the offseason while continuing his neurological therapy.
“I want to come back in tip-top shape,” Kindle said. “Definitely, you take things for granted that you love until it’s take away from you. I have a greater appreciation for having an opportunity to still play after my incident. I’m grateful.”
GAITHER NOT FORGOTTEN: Despite missing the entire season due to a thoracic disc injury in his upper back, offensive tackle Jared Gaither hasn’t been ruled out of the Ravens’ future.
The 6-foot-9, 330-pound former University of Maryland player’s status is complicated by questions about his work ethic and his high financial expectations.
“Jared was here at the meeting,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not giving up on Jared Gaither. I’ve got high hopes for Jared Gaither. We’ll just have to see because his contract issue is out there, too. Hopefully, he can fulfill all of the things he’s trying to fulfill in his career, because he wants to be a great player.”
Gaither wanted to play left tackle, but that position was taken over by Michael Oher.
Oher had an uneven season, though, committing eight false starts and being beaten by speed rushers in pass protection.
Nonetheless, the Ravens are committed to him going forward.
“Well, I think his future is at left tackle, but I could always see a situation where we move anybody,” Harbaugh said. “So, whatever’s best for the team, and the good thing about Michael is, he really doesn’t care.
“Michael just wants to get out there and play. He’s one of the most aggressive, committed, dedicated guys you’re ever going to see, but he’s got all the talent to play left tackle. I think he’s going to be a great one, wherever he plays.”
NOT RULING OUT BURRESS: A disappointing receiving corps might prompt the Ravens to explore taking a risk. Harbaugh said that he wouldn’t rule out taking a look at incarcerated former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who’s scheduled to be released from a New York prison in June.
"Sure, yeah," Harbaugh said when asked if he would consider signing Burress. "I don’t know Plaxico Burress at all. I’ve never met him, but we’d consider him.
"We’d consider anybody. It would just depend on where he’s at. I’d like to find out what kind of a person he is and see where he’s really at in his life.”
Burress is serving a two-year prison term for a conviction for carrying an unregistered handgun into a Manhattan nightclub, running afoul of the strict New York gun laws.
Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg and was charged with gun crimes. With the Giants, Burress caught 209 passes for 3,227 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The 33-year-old also hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
The former Michigan State standout has caught 505 career passes for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns.
Burress would upgrade the Ravens’ size at wide receiver. The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder has been an excellent red-zone target and deep threat.
QUICK HITS: Following their playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens’ draft position has been determined. The Ravens own the 26th overall pick of the first round. Despite the collective bargaining agreement uncertainty, the draft is going to happen. It’s set for April 28 through April 30. … Mason said he’ll undergo surgery on his finger and will need other procedures. “I’ve got to get my finger fixed,” Mason said. “I’ve got some other things, minor things that need to get done. Once the procedures are done, I’ll be fine and allow myself to rehab.” … Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden is expected to have surgery as soon as next week on a dislocated left shoulder and torn labrum, according to his agent. … Former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson was officially promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He’s expected to hire Al Saunders as his offensive coordinator. Other Ravens assistants on Jackson’s radar: running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, tight ends coach Wade Harman and secondary coach Chuck Pagano.