OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed’s patience is being tried.
The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year is awaiting his return off the physically unable to perform list as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired hip.
Reed said he feels good enough that he wishes he could be removed from the list earlier than the six weeks designated under NFL rules.
"I was scheduling myself to be back the first game," Reed said. "But as an organization and as a player, we thought the best thing would be to give it a couple more weeks. We didn’t know how many weeks it was going to take for me to get fully back, and even if it be after this six weeks. But like coach said, ‘It’s going to be hard to hold you back these next couple weeks.’ Last week, I called the NFLPA trying to get off PUP and all that.
"I thought I could’ve got it reduced. Maybe I should have called [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell. But it’s all in the game. I’ve got to abide by the rules, and all I can do is take advantage of this time. I know these guys are going to do their jobs, and do it the way we’re always taught to do it, regardless of who’s out there."
Reed has been impressed with the play of Tom Zbikowski as his replacement with the exception of his rough night returning punts.
"That takes you down really bad, but he’s doing awesome, man," Reed said. "Like I told him, ‘Just concentrate on playing safety right now. We play you to play safety.’ But I know he’s a hell of a return guy, a smart guy, and all he was trying to do was make a play. And I know if I was back there, I probably would have done the same thing. You’re trying to do the right thing for the team at the end of the day."
Before kickoff Monday night, Reed tried to quell a short altercation between New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis and Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Ellis pushed Rice’s facemask with Rice throwing a football at Ellis, and former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott angrily tossed the ball back at Rice. Rice grabbed Ellis to calm things down.
"Guys were talking a lot of smack, getting caught up in other things outside of football," Reed said. "When the game starts to get a little personal, then you’ve got other issues you’re dealing with. I think guys were just a little overly hyped at the beginning. The little incident with Ray Rice and Ellis, I don’t want to say a misunderstanding, it was just two guys having conversation.
"Yeah, I didn’t see that until ESPN and the NFL Network showed it. It was just like some things are taken overboard. Bart is a smarter player than that. It reminded me when he threw the [flag] a couple years ago, when we played the Patriots down here with the whole referee thing. But you’ve got to be smarter than that, you can’t let emotions get to you too much in this game."
Meanwhile, Reed said his hip continues to make steady progress.
"It’s been progressing since Day One of the surgery," Reed said. "I think it’s been getting better. I’m working hard. We’re doing a lot of work with the trainers here and the doctor. Just keeping that conversation up and keeping that dialogue up and making sure they’re communicating and I’m doing everything I can possibly do."
Reed said he’s trying to contribute as an extra coach on the sidelines.
"How can I get better at that?" Reed said. "You might see me with a notebook or something this week. But just helping the guys out in any way that I can. It’s kind of harder as a player to get into the flow of the game on the sideline, so just trying to know the game plan, see what they’re doing, how they’re attacking us on the one drive and then giving some tips and pointers from that."
KINDLE: ‘I’M STILL WAITING’: Injured rookie outside linebacker Sergio Kindle remains in a holding pattern as he awaits word on his medical status after fracturing his skull in late July when he fell down two flights of stairs.
Kindle recently underwent a series of neurological, cognitive and medical exams in Baltimore before returning home to Dallas.
"I’m still waiting, waiting to get back to Baltimore," Kindle said in a telephone interview.
Kindle said he’s hoping to speak to the Ravens soon after they talk to the NFL management council. The second-round draft pick from the University of Texas remains unsigned.
"They’re supposed to do that before they can talk to me," he said. "I hope we’re talking soon about me coming back there and doing my contract. I don’t know when that will happen, hopefully soon."
Kindle said he continues to make steady progress and is working out hard.
"I’m feeling good," he said. "I’ll be feeling a lot better once I get back there."
The former All-Big 12 pass rusher said he remains upbeat about his outlook.
"I’m not frustrated," Kindle said. "At first, I was because I didn’t understand and now I understand. Being patient is a good thing. Being frustrated won’t help. I’m waiting for the good word. I can’t wait."
HEAP RETURNS TO PRACTICE: Tight end Todd Heap returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, saying his strained right shoulder is improving and he’s optimistic about his chances to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It’s getting better every day," Heap said. "Hopefully, it continues going on that track."
Heap said his range of motion has gotten markedly better since injuring his shoulder Monday night at the Meadowlands when he landed on it making a diving catch in a 10-9 win over the New York Jets.
"Certain injuries you just got to let them heal," Heap said. "This is kind of one of those. You got to let it get back. The way it’s been going right now, I feel good about it and the direction I’m heading. It’s getting better."
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was downgraded to not practicing due to a back injury that limited him in drills Wednesday.
All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis (foot), wide receiver Anquan Boldin (thigh) and rookie nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody (torn meniscus in left knee) were limited again.
Inside linebacker Jameel McClain was limited with a knee injury after participating fully Wednesday.
The Ravens added inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (thigh) to the injury report. He was limited.
Wide receiver Marcus Smith (knee) participated fully again.
For the Bengals, defensive end Jonathan Fanene (hamstring) didn’t practice again.
Linebacker Keith Rivers (foot) was limited after sitting out Wednesday.
The Bengals added running back Cedric Benson (shoulder), but he participated fully,.
The following players were limited again: cornerback Brandon Ghee (head), wide receiver Andre Caldwell (groin) and running back Brian Leonard (foot).
GAITHER STILL SIDELINED: Offensive tackle Jared Gaither remains in limbo as far as his playing status, unsure when he’ll be able to return from a thoracic disc injury in his back.
Gaither has been ruled out for the second consecutive game.
"I’m doing well," he said. "Pretty good, recovering great."
Gaither was projected to start at right tackle, but has been sidelined since Aug. 5 with a slight upper back tear that has triggered back spasms.
"I’m just getting ready and making sure I’m sharp and focused and into the games," Gaither said.
Is he in pain?
"It’s doing pretty good," Gaither said. "Right now, it’s enough that I’m fighting through it as muc has I can."
The 6-foot-9 lineman also reported underweight at 310 pounds, but says he’s back up to the 330-pound range now.
Gaither acknowledged that the injury has tried his patience.
"It’s very frustrating, but it’s what we signed up for," Gaither said. "Injuries happen. I want to bounce back."
WEBB UPDATE: No longer being included on the injury report hasn’t changed cornerback Lardarius Webb’s low-key approach to his status heading into Sunday’s game.
"Everybody keeps talking about this injury report I’ve never heard of," Webb said. "Ain’t nothing really changed. It’s the same thing, going to be the same decision."
Webb tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Dec. 20 against the Chicago Bears.
He was probable on the injury report heading into the Jets game, but was deactivated as a game-time decision.
Webb said the decision on when he’ll return will be made by himself, coach John Harbaugh and trainer Bill Tessendorf.
"It’s going to mostly be coach’s call on Sunday," he said. "I just have to see how this week goes and how I feel."
MILLER MAKING MOST OF SECOND CHANCE: Back with the Ravens after being signed off the New England Patriots’ practice squad, rookie cornerback and punt returner Prince Miller is intent on making the most of this latest opportunity.
"It’s good to be back," Miller said. "It seems like I was only gone for a little while. I love the guys, it’s good to be back."
Miller was cut one day after the Ravens’ final major roster cutdown and chose to join the Patriots’ practice squad over an offer from Baltimore.
"I had to make the decision fast," Miller said. "It was a decision that had to be made and I had to make the best of it. It’s a learning experience. It’s something that you learn from.
"It’s something that’s going to help out in the future. If it happens again, I’ll be ready for it. This is a business. Decisions have to be made."
The Ravens are likely to stick with Zbikowski on punts for Sunday.
"I expect Zibby to bounce back," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "When a good player makes a mistake, he learns from it and becomes a better player. And we expect that from Zibby."
Miller is making his bid to be involved.
He returned a 57-yarder against the Carolina Panthers and averaged 12.4 yards per return during the preseason.
"Wherever I’m needed I’ll fill in," Miller said. "We have a lot of guys who bring things to the table in terms of returning kicks, the biggest thing is ball security. You don’t ever want to put the defense back on the field."
Miller was signed Tuesday after the team cut cornerback Bryan McCann, who was added to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad
"Prince is here to play corner, he’s here to play gunner, he’s here to play returner, he’s here to do a number of different things," Rosburg said. "We’ll see how it goes at the end of the week."
Under NFL rules, player s signed off another team’s practice squad has to be on the team for three weeks.
So, Miller isn’t relaxing.
"It feels good, but in the position I’m in you can’t get cocky," he said. "You have to go out and treat every day like your job depends on it."
QUICK HITS: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ devastating fourth-quarter hit on Jets tight end Dustin Keller has become a staple on highlight films all week. "It’s like a quarterback throwing a big touchdown," Lewis said. "The same excitement of him reading that perfectly, hitting the main straight in his hands. That’s what a linebacker’s touchdown is. When you’ve got that perfect setup and you see this man coming, you go, ‘Pop, and you hit him right on the button. When you get up, you know it was that play. It’s what you work for. Playing my position, that’s my touchdown." … Lewis was impressed with punter Sam Koch’s open-field tackle to prevent Jim Leonhard from scoring on a punt return. "Perfect form, that’s what I told Sam," Lewis said. "Anytime you can use perfect form as any form of kicker, that’s a good thing. Sam is a good guy. We’ve been messing with him about that, but for him to make that tackle that was a big, big play. I’m not surprised. If you know Sam, you wouldn’t be surprised." Koch played linebacker and fullback in high school growing up in Nebraska. "We had a few form tackles that weren’t so pretty that led to his form tackle, so we’ll try to keep him out of the tackling rankings if we possibly can going forward," Rosburg said. "Sam’s a football player. You look back at his high school background. In Nebraska, they don’t shy away from contact. We do practice tackling with our specialists. So, the opportunity presented itself and he came through for us in a big way." … The Ravens have used cornerback Josh Wilson sparingly since acquiring him in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks. "I guess so," he said. "I can’t call it." He said he’s learned the playbook. "I’m good to go," he said. "I’m out there practicing every day."